Sajida Patel - 2009 Recipient
"Ah," is what I said when opening my mouth in Dr. Zaheer's office. I loved going to the doctor as a child. This was a place full of interesting items such as the stethoscope, the height and weight scale, and the triangular shaped flashlight used for my ears. Unlike other kids, I never cried going to the doctor's office. I always followed his directions and stayed healthy.
Last summer, after 16 years of living a healthy life in Chicago, I visited India. This experience allowed me to value doctors even more. On the evening of June 14, 2007, I boarded my flight and was ready to take off from O'Hare Airport. I was really nervous since this was the first time flying in a plane, leaving America, and visiting a foreign country.
The first thing that I noticed upon arrival were the "coolies." These were men trying to hustle money for their services. This was the start of my bad experience; it seemed to me that the people just wanted money. However, after a few couple of days, I noticed the despair in most parts of India.
My parents' families aren't wealthy and lived in poverty-filled villages. The people were unhealthy and some were sick in bed. Even though I didn't know them, I felt sorry for them. I thought they should be aided, regardless of their financial situation. As I traveled, I saw mothers and children living in the streets. Their sorrow-filled eyes expressed their pain. I was just a tourist, so I didn't have much to say, but this affected my pity-filled heart greatly. I felt that I should get involved and help the injured. I wanted to put bandages on them, to make sure they weren't in so much pain.
Later that week I gained an inside view of Indian medical services. I got sick and was taken to the doctor's office by my uncle and mother. Before seeing me, the clinic required that I pay a fee. When we walked in, the receptionist asked for my name and then said in Guajarati, "Sajida, go downstairs to the office on your right and pay your dues. Then the doctor will see you." Their clinic staff was comprised of only the receptionist and the doctor; there was no nurse. I had a long wait before I was checked in. As I saw it, if only there had been a nurse, I might have received medical attention much sooner.
I want to be that nurse who converses with the patient and relieves some of their pain. I am a very sociable person. I love to talk, meet new people, and learn about different things. I want my patients to think of me as a loving and welcoming nurse and that children will not hesitate to come to the doctor's office.
Raising three beautiful children has been difficult for my parents. Since they did not complete high school in India and weren't given the opportunity to further their education, they haven't been able to find good jobs. My family has a low income and, similar to other parents, they want us to focus on school. I did not get much help from them with homework and could rely only on my learning in class and teachers for assistance. Despite this, I have become an honors and A.P. student, holding a GPA of 4.0. I have come to school early every morning and on several occasions stayed after school, after my extra-curricular activities, to obtain extra help. The fact that I have jumped from being a regular trigonometry student to one of the top AP calculus students is one of my greatest achievements this year.
I've changed from a girl who was afraid to take honors classes to a young lady who isn't afraid to take challenging courses. Although my parents haven't gone far academically, I want to be a nurse working in a hospital, aiding others.