Up Close and Purposeful by Kim Kasama

A few months ago, I interviewed my aunt for a class I was taking for nursing school. Per instruction, the interviewee was to be someone in their middle to later adulthood and the questions were left completely up to the interviewer. I did as instructed and found myself entangled in more questions than time permitted me to ask, but was also embraced by a deeper sense of tranquility about my own life trajectory, and the value of the things for which we both allocate and spend time for others and for ourselves.

I concluded the most recent pivotal moments encompassed these past two years I have taken post-college to gain experience and pave a more definite career path. For me, these moments don’t necessarily reflect singular events, rather a combination of decisions, people, and experiences--particularly National Health Corps. Upon returning from teaching English in Spain last summer, I was indecisive on the next step. I thought I was set on applying for research positions and starting the application process for graduate school in public health, but then I created an AmeriCorps profile and before I knew it, sent in an application for National Health Corps Philadelphia.

When discussing life decisions and events, my aunt commented, "You know, one of my favorite sayings is that ‘sometimes it is better to be lucky than good’.” I remember applying to NHC late in the cycle with just a few positions available, and with this being a competitive program, I decided to give it my all and see what happened. I ended up interviewing and moved on to the next stage with host site interviews and came at a crossroad: take the position I was offered at my current host site, or forego it and continue with my original plan of taking the GRE and being a research assistant somewhere. Frankly, I wanted to stay in Kentucky, but I made the decision to move to Philadelphia, and I definitely felt lucky to have found NHC and embark on a new journey so quickly after having finished my previous one abroad.

For the past 11 months, I have had the honor of getting to know 25 other members of whom I deeply respect and admire. My experience in NHC has broadened my perspectives of public health by giving me the opportunity to collaborate with other individuals and interact with guest speakers of various health backgrounds who value diversity and desire to make impactful changes in others’ health. Additionally, I have learned something valuable from each member, and have seen a different side of health/healthcare from serving at a community health center. Now, I feel evermore grateful (lucky if you will) for choosing NHC, without which I would not have chosen to pursue a career in health through nursing. If not for the inspiration I have drawn from each outstanding member and experience at my host site, I would not be where I am today. I attribute a great deal of my personal and professional growth to this past year of service, and hope to continue to “get things done” in public health and beyond.