Becoming a Leader
Shermeir Porter was a participant in the Teen HYPE program at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs for several years. She currently attends Gwynedd Mercy University where she is majoring in Medical Laboratory Science and minoring in Psychology. For the past two summers she interned at the St. Elizabeth’s Wellness Center through the John and Sheila Conners Youth Employment Program. This article is adapted from a talk she gave at the August 13 luncheon for this year’s interns in the program.
St. Elizabeth’s Wellness Center is the true definition of personalism. Personalism means no one deserves to be mistreated or feel like their life has no purpose because of who they are. Everyone life has meaning. At St. Elizabeth’s, we try our best to meet every patient’s need by making sure we not only treat the surface issue but we also treat the underlying issue as well. We do not turn away any patients. We serve all.
When this clinic first opened, it was meant to reach and serve the people many people walk by every day in the streets, the homeless population. To us they are important; they matter and they are people just like us who need medical assistance. At our clinic we reach our hand out to them to let them know that if no one else is there for them we are, I am. Many days I stayed late to make sure my patients were taken care of.
From that experience I realize my passion for serving others. Each day I come to work, and see some of the patients I saw last summer; it is like a complete turnaround. It brings me joy when I get to see the transformation and progression in my patients. When I ask them what made them want to change, they would always say, it was us. One of my patients came up to me and thanked me for working with her and helping her. I told my patient I’m here to serve you whenever you need my help just call on me. I want our patients to know how much we care, as their providers. Our patients are important to us, so we will go the extra mile to make sure they know that. Even if that’s making home visits, taking them to doctor appointments, or just calling to check up on them. Our patients matter.
As part of my internship, my first experience was to go out with the Project HOME outreach team to see homelessness first hand. Before going out there I thought I had an idea of why people were homeless, but after hearing their stories it changed my whole view of homelessness. I also made visits to other Project HOME facilities. I went to Women of Change for a nursing visit to provide onsite nursing care management.
This internship has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone. I’ve done things this summer that I didn’t think I could have done. This internship has contributed greatly to my career goals. I hope to one day become a medical malpractice lawyer. Right now I will be getting my certification to be a lab tech but later after I practice law I want to return to nursing. My career goal is to one day continue to research and advance medicine. I want to be able to find better treatment options, and improve on the medicine we have today. I also want to research and find ways to decease our risks of chronic diseases that are prevalent in the homeless population such as heart diseases and diabetes.
To the staff at St. E’s, thank you so much for not making anything easy for me. Thank you for making me work and figure things out for myself. Thank you for helping me, but not directing me and letting me make my own choices.
From these two summers I have grown so much. The experience, the knowledge, the patients, and my co-workers I will never forget. I became an advocate, hard worker, believer, provider, care giver. I gained confidence, and now I am a leader.