Joyce KisemeiBy: Onosetale Eimunjeze
Joyce Kisemei, a mother of four and grandmother of two, is an international senior nursing student from Kenya who moved to the United States with her family in 2016.
Her inspiration to study nursing came from her involvement in church activities while she was still living in Kenya. As a volunteer in the church where her husband pastored, they embarked on activities such as visiting, preaching and praying for sick people who were in the hospitals as well as in their homes. She spoke about how they prayed to nourish the spiritual parts of the sick but were sad as they could not do much for their physical health. That challenge was her calling to study nursing. Moving to the U.S. provided her with the opportunity to study nursing in an environment with ample resources, so she could return to Kenya and offer more to those living in her village.
Kisemei spoke about how English being her third language led to her biggest challenge: the language barrier. She had learned English but, due to a lack of practice, her proficiency level decreased, creating a barrier that she had to get around to be successful. To overcome it, she devoted more time to personal study and shied away from asking for help.
Adapting to a new culture was also a challenge for Kisemei. “The culture here is very different from how I was brought up,” Kisemei said. “The difference in social life and food types here were a big challenge for me. I have learned to assimilate to some of the new cultures, but I also try as much as possible to keep and share my culture whenever possible.”
Kisemei notes that the availability of resources is one key difference between nursing education in her home country and in the U.S. Because Kenya is a third-world country, their access to medical resources is limited. In five years, she plans to further her education by getting a master's degree. “The more I learn, the more I want to know about the medical field,” Kisemei said.
Studying hard and being focused are the skills she said helped her to succeed as a nursing school student is both daunting and tasking, and Kisemei said balancing that with her personal life takes a lot of sacrifice, discipline and priority making.