Nu Beta at-Large Chapter member Rebekka Lerma is driven by the same force that drives most who work in the healthcare field, especially in the field of nursing: a passion to serve others. Her passion was formed early, and those life experiences mirrored those of the communities she would later feel called to serve.
Rebekka Lerma grew up in Brawley, California, a small, rural community that bordered Mexico. Both of her parents had instilled the value of hard work and a strong work ethic within their daughter, and Rebekka entered the workforce at age 15. This first job happened to be in a medical office that offered OB/GYN services to primarily low-income women, and Rebekka knew she had found her calling.
“Growing up, I experienced firsthand what it felt like not to have access to healthcare. There were very few primary care offices and clinics and making appointments was a challenge. The only available access to medical care was through the emergency room.” Rebekka continues, “These experiences have helped me find my true joy and passion in helping others in need from a medical standpoint. I wanted to be able to deliver equitable and patient-centered healthcare to all people, especially those living in rural and medically underserved communities.”
Rebekka would continue to serve her community in that medical office throughout her high school career, until she began classes at the University of California San Diego, about two hours away from her hometown. After graduation, she obtained another position working in a surgical office, but realized she needed more. “I was able to gain an immense amount of experience after graduation, but despite my love for medicine, my heart ached for more. I wanted to combine my love for the biological sciences with the sociological aspect of understanding the person as a whole.”
As it turns out, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing was able to help Rebekka ease that ache. She’ll earn her MSN in May 2019 and plans on continuing her education with the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner doctorate program. Rebekka’s time as an MSN student has been enriched by many experiences, including opportunities to travel to rural communities in Guatemala with other nursing students and being a member of an interdisciplinary student team that focused on overcoming social barriers to health, as well as the opportunity to connect with others who share her passion.
This connection opportunity came in the form of being offered membership into Sigma, something Rebekka was elated to accept. But, as with most current students, money can be quite tight and membership to Sigma simply wasn’t an option for her. At least, not until she discovered the Edith Anderson Membership Subsidy. The Edith Anderson Membership Subsidy is funded solely through donations to the Sigma Foundation for Nursing’s Leadership Fund and would not be available without the support of Sigma Foundation donors. Support that gives new members the opportunity to connect with an international community of nurses who share their passion. “Without this subsidy, I would not have been able to experience all the opportunities that Sigma has offered me. I am beyond grateful to all the gracious donors who have contributed to the Leadership Fund, because without them, none of this would be possible.”
What’s next for Rebekka? Aside from continuing her education, she wants to continue to and better serve those who need it the most. “Ultimately, I see myself working in outpatient primary care and continuing to work to better support and advocate for the vulnerable populations.”
“What I love most about what I’m doing right now is being able to achieve a balance between immediate medical attention and care beyond the hospital,” she says. “I am in this unique position as a future registered nurse to work in a critical care setting, learning all the critical care aspects in medicine while working to provide holistic care for patients.”
Interested in providing opportunities for more student nurses like Rebekka? You can learn more various opportunities by contacting the Sigma Foundation for Nursing or visiting www.SigmaNursing.org/Foundation.