Service has always been a cornerstone in my life. Growing up I watched my parents and other members of my community dedicate their time to anyone that was in need. I later realized that I was being subconsciously groomed to be a person for others. When I learned about NHC I knew without a doubt that it was the program for me. For me, volunteering has always been about using my privilege to address the needs of others. But my year of service has given me a new meaning of what it means to volunteer and what it means to serve. During my year of service I have learned to be a better person for others.
Both my upbringing in a rural environment and serving in an underserved population filled with individuals of different cultures, languages, and beliefs challenged me to become a person who was willing and able to see the perspectives of others. Becoming a person for others goes beyond acts of giving and charitable service. Rather it means finding a central love, understanding, and acceptance for all people. As a future health provider this means seeing beyond my patients’ illnesses and seeking to understand how their beliefs, culture, and other external factors contribute to who they are. This requires engaging with people of different backgrounds and discovering our shared values. It means doing things out of love or for the greater good rather than to be recognized for doing a good deed. It means seeing individuals for who they truly are rather than focusing on our differences. To be a person for others means responding to pain, tragedy, and suffering in the capacity of a servant in order to meet their needs.
My year with NHC and serving at Erie Family Health Center has changed my life forever. It has shown me how to get things done and more importantly what it means to serve. Over the past several months I have watched my colleagues at Erie Family Health Center and my fellow NHC members in awe as they both pour into so many people daily with an endless heart for service and desire to help those in need. They have both inspired me to continue to put service at the heart of everything I do as a future physician. Because of my service year I now aspire to one day practice at a non-profit clinic in an underserved community where I will be surrounded by others who also want to do the common good. I have learned through many experiences that there is no such thing as giving or helping too much. Nor is there ever a time where I cannot make more room in my life for the needs of someone else. As I embark on my journey to medicine, I aspire to learn how to become a better person for others and be more attentive to the spirit of those I serve.
This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2017-18 member Krysten Sessoms.
Krysten is a Health Educator at Erie Family Health Centers - West Town and Humboldt Park.