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Latina Student Recalls Her Roots in Choosing Nursing

rocktalkrocktalkOne of nine siblings from a Latino family in Eastern Washington and the first to attend college, Rosaelia (Rosie) Morfin traces her interest in nursing to the many times she accompanied her Spanish-speaking parents to medical appointments to serve as an interpreter.

"My parents were my biggest motivation because I could see their struggles with their medical providers when they were trying to communicate their health problems," she explains. "When I came to the University of Washington and began volunteering in the Harborview burn unit, I observed the contact that nurses had with their patients and knew that this was the career for me."

When Morfin obtained an internship to work with Soule Endowed Professor Frances Marcus Lewis under the University's Bridges 4 program, which provides exposure to health science careers to students from underrepresented ethnic groups, she also experienced the rewards of helping Lewis' team of nurse researchers work on projects relating to breast and cervical cancer.

This fall, Morfin entered the BSN program with the assistance of a scholarship from the Nursing Alumni Fund. She states that her goal as a nurse is to work in a "low income, underrepresented community," and "learn more about myself as a nurse." She then plans on returning for a master's degree so that she "can become a nurse practitioner or do important research."

Morfin notes that Latinos represent the largest ethnic group in Washington, and yet many of them are not attending colleges or technical schools. "Even though many Latinos face financial and cultural obstacles," she continues, "it is important to keep in mind that we are not just doing this for ourselves, but as role models for others."

Morfin is by all accounts an exemplary role model herself, volunteering at a Seattle youth shelter in her spare time and spending part of last summer on an internship in Peru under the Multidisciplinary International Research Training (MIRT) program. She was on the UW Dean's List last spring and also received a scholarship from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers honoring Hispanic students majoring in science. She is also working with Lewis on a journal article about cervical cancer screening for Latinas.

Despite her many accolades, Morfin is quick to credit her parents and their struggles to give her opportunities they did not have. "Always remember where you came from," she advises.

CREDIT:  Rosie Morjin, right, with one of 300 women she interviewed in an impoverished area of Peru last summer as part of a research internship.