Introduction and interview by Caroline Skou, Holy Cross '20
Sometime during my first year of college there was an alumni talk I was required to attend. At the time, graduation had seemed like a dream-- the real world of careers was so out of reach I had never put much thought into it. But there I was, in the 4th row from the back, listening to 2008 grads as they recalled what it was like to graduate during a recession. I inwardly cringed at these stories. Second hand anxiety from the thought of graduating during a difficult economic time. At the time I had convinced myself that would not happen when 2020 rolled around. But alas, here we are as recent graduates navigating unemployed and remote training during these unprecedented times. Because of this, I find myself balancing a lack of motivation with real first-hand anxiety for the future.
But when I feel like this, I always happen to come across someone like Nadia Gomez. Nadia, a recent graduate from Texas A&M, has faced all the hardships that the pandemic has brought with it, and has not only endured it with grace, but has maintained a positive outlook on the future. Her thoughtful answers made it clear that In a time like this it's not only important to surround yourself with a good community, but also reminds me that it’s important to be someone else's sense of community.
I am working under COVID precautions, I have made major life changes to help keep my colleagues, family, myself, and most importantly my patients safe.
Nadia, I understand you’ve recently graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. Animal Science. Have you started working? How has your experience been?
After graduation, I received a new job as a Medical Transcriber so I am required to come into the clinic daily to help surgeons and doctors with their charting. Because I am working under COVID precautions, I have made major life changes to help keep my colleagues, family, myself, and most importantly my patients safe. This includes limiting my time spent at Target (big sad), traveling less, increasing the supplements I take, and turning to a healthier diet to help fight any infectious diseases.
Are there any online courses or certifications you have done to help you learn more about your industry? Any insta pages you follow? Blogs?
After graduation in May, I took a break from school but applied to different public health masters programs in the state of Texas. I am happy to say that I was recently accepted into the Masters of Science Health Science (MSHS) Nutrition Concentration program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. In August, I will begin my studies which will enhance my education in the importance of public health and nutrition. I am excited and look forward to this journey which will ultimately lead me to applying to Physician Assistant school!
This pandemic has driven me to continue learning about what we can do to help prevent and how I can help those around me with my education.
However, quarantine has also given me the opportunity to invest more of my time into reading more books, following health and workout accounts (go workout with Vicky Justiz on YouTube!!!), and growing stronger in my faith. During the month of April, I fell ill and it was a major health scare for me. I vowed to myself that I would spend more of my time being better to my physical, emotional, and mental health by learning from healthcare professionals, books, and churches. Sadly, COVID has taken over my family’s life and mine these past few weeks. However, I was able to take what I learned during quad and help my family overcome COVID. This pandemic has driven me to continue learning about what we can do to help prevent and how I can help those around me with my education.
Has the Black Lives Matter movement shifted your career trajectory? Are you considering corporate responsibility and companies' responses to BLM when applying to jobs?
The BLM movement has not changed my career trajectory being that I ultimately want to be a PA and help every patient without judgement of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and so on. Before the Black Lives Matter movement, I was not fully aware of the racial issues Black Americans faced. However, as a Hispanic, I was fully aware of the issues Mexican-Americans faced and would always do my absolute best to support Hispanics and Mexican-Americans. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown me to look at those with a different race and the issues they face. Before going to shop anywhere or even think about applying for a job, I like to take the time to research the business or company to see where their intentions are as a whole. Is the company supporting all races? Has the company ended their sponsorship with an influencer that has not been supportive of special needs? Does the company hire those with special needs? Is the company's hiring process influenced by an individual’s sexuality? The BLM movement has opened my eyes to many of the issues our society faces and what we can do to help those around us facing those issues daily. I know I am only one person and can’t change the entire world, but if I can help make a difference in one person’s world by supporting them, I will do so.
Are you a part of any clubs or organizations on campus that have continued community involvement remotely? What do you think these communities are going to look like in the fall?
During undergrad, I was part of Aggie Sisters in Healthcare (ASH) and Project Sunshine (PSUN) at Texas A&M University. Both of these organizations have an Alumni aspect to the organization, so I will continue to be involved with them. Being a woman and going into healthcare, it can be a competitive field. ASH is all about empowering, encouraging, and motivating other women working towards the goal of becoming a healthcare provider without competition against each other. During my senior year, I was so blessed to be the Pre-PA Subco Chair for 20 amazing women. We got to tour PA schools, study together, and I was able to be a shoulder to cry on for those who needed it. After graduation, I have continued to lead the PA group through Zoom and have helped my girls apply to PA school, study for the GRE, been someone they can talk to, and even hosted Netflix watch parties because who else isn’t bored during quarantine! Even after a new PA group leader is selected, I have my Alumni status to help continue to teach, guide, and encourage future Pre-PA girls towards their goals.
In Project Sunshine, we exist to bring awareness and importance to the community of children with special needs all while being able to hang out with these awesome kids we get to call “buddies”. As an Alumni and an organization, we are unable to physically hang out with our buddies during this time due to COVID. As an alternative, we like to FaceTime our buddies and their families to let them know that we miss them and have so many exciting activities waiting for them when we’re all able to be together again! We also continue to promote PSUN to Texas A&M students to help bring awareness of children with special needs in the Bryan/College Station area.
With the way things are due to COVID, ASH will continue regular meetings and have guest speakers through zoom, and I will continue communicating with my girls and being there for them during these times. In PSUN, we are talking about the possibility of creating “buddy time” where a COVID free student will be able to personally have one on one time with their chosen buddy and their family.
Until then, Zoom and FaceTime have become our best friends!
It really seems that the concept of community in general has shifted during quarantine. How have you maintained a sense of community while at home?
On July 12, 2020 I lost my dad due to multiple myeloma and COVID. Because of hospital rules and regulations, my family and I were unable to be by his side during his final days. Because my mom and I contracted COVID, this also meant no family was able to come to our house during this time. This was hands down the most horrible and heartbreaking week of my life. However, when my dad was in the hospital, his nurse was kind enough to FaceTime us every night so we were able to talk to my dad. This nurse also made sure to tell all of my dad's other nurses to not leave his side and to be with him because we couldn’t. All of these nurses made it possible for me to say my goodbyes to my dad and made sure that my dad was never alone during this time.
Overall, the community of the nurses and the community of my friends and family during this time has blown me away. It made me realize how many people care and love us, even if they don’t show it every single day.
Because my mom and I are COVID positive , we haven’t been able to return to work or properly honor my dad with a funeral. As a temporary replacement, we hold a Zoom session every night at 7:30 to pray and share stories with family and friends of my dad. So many friends have mailed flowers, delivered food, and called me daily to check up on my emotional and physical health. Even cousins I never knew I had messaged me daily to check up on my family and to send their love!
Overall, the community of the nurses and the community of my friends and family during this time has blown me away. It made me realize how many people care and love us, even if they don’t show it every single day. It’s taught me to let go of the things in life that don’t matter that much and to reach out to those around me and to do my best to be aware of those in all aspects of my community. We do a great job at keeping things to ourselves and not letting others know the struggles we face. Family, friends, a colleague, students, no matter who they are, it’s important to be someone’s sense of community and to do our best to be there for others because we never fully know what is going on in their world.
I’m so sorry for your loss. And I’m glad to hear you have a great community supporting you. To finish the interview, I would love to hear about what your favorite parts of your Aggie comminite, and what have you missed about school while being at home?
There are so many aspects about Texas A&M that I miss. I miss the simple things like being able to sit in a classroom and learn in person. I miss talking to Lucy, the cashier on West Campus who always called me “Honey” and would sneak me a free cookie. I miss the classroom, my former boss, the class I got to help him teach, and all of the students I was able to be an assistant to. I miss being able to take a nap on a random couch in the hallway without worrying if it had COVID or caring if anyone saw me sleeping because I was up late studying. I miss saying “Howdy” to my favorite professors, giving life advice to a random student while getting a snack at the vending machine, and hearing the bus driver yell at us saying “you can do it”. Overall, I miss all the little things that added up and made me an Aggie. My time was cut short, and being able to walk the Texas A&M stage was taken from me and 10,000 other students. However, I am so grateful for all the memories I got to make while being at school. We take all the little things for granted, and this whole pandemic has taught me to soak up every precious moment of every day.