This past August, Chiamaka Okorie, CSON ‘17, presented research on sexual communication among African-American families at the 45th annual conference of the National Black Nurses Association.
Okorie is a member of the Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing (KILN) program, which fosters leadership and research in future nurses looking to make a social impact through their work.
She attended the conference in Memphis, Tennessee with her mentor, Dr. Allyssa Harris. Presenting Harris’ research, the pair “shared literature on sexual risk behavior among African-American males, highlighted the importance of parent-child communication, and suggested ways to facilitate such conversations in families,” according to a blog from the KILN program.
For Okorie, a conference opportunity like this is a perfect example of how KILN pushes students to go beyond a typical nursing degree. “Hearing passionate stories and fascinating research studies changed my perspective about the type of nurse I could be,” she said.
Okorie explained that the past three years in the nursing program at BC have instilled in her a passion for public and global health. “I like public health because it explores the patient's backstory and aims to prevent them from reaching the hospital,” she explained.
“I am a Nigerian immigrant who lives in a predominantly Black and Latino neighborhood, so I naturally began to think about the communities that I come from.”
Discovering that these communities tended to be more vulnerable to health disparities motivated Okorie to use her education to become an advocate for improved public health programs among minorities.
Not only did the conference allow Okorie to present research to the other nurses in attendance, but it also exposed her to the feedback, questions, and research of older and more experienced nurses.
Commenting on the lessons she learned at the conference, Okorie asserted that experiences beyond the classroom like the conference have allowed her to make connections between academics, clinical experience, and her own life, making the discipline of public health all the more personal.
Okorie is especially grateful for Dr. Harris’ mentorship throughout her journey at Boston College. “I have been so inspired by Dr. Harris' passion, kindness, and support,” she remarked. “She connects me to career opportunities like the NBNA conference, shares great insight about the nursing vocation, and always genuinely cares about my personal growth.”
Working with Dr. Harris has inspired Okorie to strive to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner after graduation, allowing her to further her hopes of making a difference through nursing and public health.