Knowledge and passion together are a powerful dynamic that can be used to bring ideas, from within, to reality. Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first African American licensed nurse, exemplifies what it means to use your knowledge, gained from experience and education, for a greater purpose and to implement change based upon what you are passionate about. She has pushed me as a college student to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse while using my accomplishments and knowledge to make a difference by excelling in the underrepresented medical field and creating achievement opportunities for others along the way.
Mary Mahoney spent her life being an inspiration to the black community by excelling in her nursing education and being a civil rights activist. Mahoney started working in a hospital in her teen years with several positions. From there, there she entered a nursing program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. Astonishingly, out of all 42 students, only 4 (including Mahoney) completed the rigorous program. She continued as a private nurse and expanded her nurse involvement by becoming a member of the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada. This group was predominantly white and was not welcoming to black nurses. Later, Mahoney founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. Mahoney never allowed discrimination to deter her from pursuing her passion and working hard to become a nurse and activist.
Being a black female means being strong and passionate about everything while being resilient to the hardships caused by discrimination. I realize how important it is to stay true to myself and use my passion of helping others as a light to overpower this ignorance. Like Mahoney, I don’t just want to be a nurse. I want to use my career to lift and benefit my black community. I want to bring diversity into the medical field and show that black women are not inferior to anyone. Along the way, I hope to establish an organization that brings together minority nurses within my school. I also would like to create a platform on social media to provide guidance on how to be successful in college. Like Mahoney, I want to encourage the black community to use our beautiful culture and exceptional capabilities to bring our dreams to reality. Mary Eliza Mahoney’s legacy carries on as being an inspiration to the black community, having awards named after her, having a monument, and being inducted in the Nursing Hall of Fame.