Next year, Amana Khatib ’21 will become a registered nurse, a career that will allow her to improve the lives of her patients. But her impact is sure to extend far beyond hospital walls.
Khatib came to the United States at five years old from Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan that has seen years of war. She has first-hand experience of overcoming challenges and adjusting to a new culture, from learning a new language to comprehending directions from a health care provider. Khatib chose to study nursing so she could make a difference, especially for people who come from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.
“My own experiences have made me empathetic to others,” she said. “I’ve had to translate in medical settings for my parents since I was a child. As a nurse, I hope to be a good advocate for my patients.”
As she cycles through clinical rotations in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Khatib draws on her own experience to inform her approach to nursing. Her current rotation in psychiatry at Southcoast Behavioral Health Hospital, has piqued her interest in the field. “Mental health is a taboo topic in my culture, so that’s another discipline where I could contribute by being an advocate for mental health patients.”
Khatib places a strong value on cultural awareness and diversity. She is a participant in the Diversity Nursing Scholars program, where nursing professionals serve as mentors to students. With little time in the fast-paced clinical settings to talk about careers or ask for advice, she uses this opportunity to better understand what to expect when she becomes a registered nurse.
“I loved meeting the nurses and asking them questions about their experiences, especially hearing how minority nurses have managed challenging situations in their careers,” Amana said. “I’ve learned to be open-minded and respectful dealing with many different patients.”
Amana’s knows the impact she can have not only on her individual patients, but on their families and communities. As a student also in the Honors College, her thesis focuses on the effects of health literacy on the care of patients with cardiovascular disease. “Health literacy is not limited to people of color or non-native English speakers,” Amana explained. “Many patients struggle with this, and health care providers also need guidance on how they can improve their patients’ health literacy so they can make informed decisions about their health.”
Khatib is also pursuing a minor in leadership and civic engagement, which complements her nursing studies well. She will complete a research project related to her major, focusing on developing a community health plan.
She is the recipient of the John Smith Presidential Scholarship, the Shaukat Ali Memorial Scholarship, and the Gustave and Elsa Lastaiti Scholarship—endowed funds that support the ambitions of students like Khatib, who strive to use their talents to improve the world around them.
“Scholarships have made a difference for me because I am able to focus on my studies, my career goals, and participate in activities on campus. Knowing that donors have made UMassD students a priority inspires and motivates me.”
Saleem Ali, Ph.D., son of Shaukat Ali, former professor at UMassD, and his family established their scholarship to carry forward Professor Ali’s legacy of compassion and caring. “As a public university which serves a broad demographic with diversity and inclusion, we hope this scholarship will incentivize more students to engage in humanitarian research projects,” Ali said. “UMass Dartmouth has been a beacon of hope for many young scholars who deserve recognition beyond what their means can often afford.”
Last summer, Khatib was one of five candidates selected for the Hausman Student Nurse Fellowship at MassGeneral Hospital, where students work with minority mentors to practice their skills in the workplace. “Working with a minority nurse mentor and preceptor in the program has prepared me for my mentorship next semester.”
After graduation next spring and passing the nursing exams, Khatib hopes to work in an urban area where she can continue her work with diverse populations. Later, she’d like to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice. “The nursing program helped me become confident in my nursing abilities. I feel prepared to be a registered nurse.”