Our Nurse of the Week is Yaneli Arizmendi, a University of Pennsylvania (Penn) nursing senior who is spearheading an after-school program for Latino high school students in South Philadelphia intended to drive improved academic success and build self-efficacy. The project titled Lanzando Lideres (Launching Leaders) will be funded via Penn’s Engagement and Innovation Prize program. Yaneli was one of eight undergraduate students to receive the honor following her internship with Puentes de Salud as part of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Nursing Internship Program.
Yaneli will work with Alexa Salas and Camilo Toro, seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences, under mentorship from Toni Villarruel, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing. These students want to position Latino high school students to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals through an experiential, bilingual, and culturally-inclusive curriculum which will serve as the touchstone for the Lanzando Lideres program.
To learn more about Yaneli’s leadership on the Lanzando Lideres project and her background in nursing, read our full interview with her here:
What made you decide to pursue a nursing degree?
I’m very hands-on, so I’ve always wanted to pursue a career that requires physical engagement and practical application. My experience at Puentes de Salud – through the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Nursing Internship Program – cemented my desire to pursue a career in nursing. At the clinic, I worked with the triage nurse to initiate the visits for the walk-in patients. The clinic was always full because of the demand for patient care services, so the wait times were long. After learning the structure of the clinic, I started to begin triage for the provider and gather information about the chief complaint to determine whether the patient needed to be seen and, in certain cases, prepare the patient to see a doctor.
Tell me about your involvement with the after-school program for Latino high school students in Philadelphia.
Right now, we are still in the early stages of collaboration with our partner, Puentes de Salud, a south Philadelphia-based nonprofit that promotes the health and wellness of the rapidly growing Latino immigrant population through high-quality health care, innovative educational programs, and community building. Our program will be rooted in three principles: education, enrichment, and engagement.
We plan to launch the program in September, so our first priority is to develop an experiential, bilingual, and culturally inclusive curriculum that will serve as the touchstone of our program. Eventually, we will disseminate our curriculum and resources through an interactive website for students, tutors, and a larger community of Latino youth worldwide.
Ultimately, we hope to create a culturally grounded, community-based program that helps drive improved academic performance and builds self-efficacy, so students are positioned to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals.
What is the mission or goal of the program?
The program’s mission is to continuously improve the long-term health and prosperity of the South Philadelphia Latino immigrant community by actively addressing social and systematic inequities.
Was your internship at Puentes de Salud your inspiration for the after-school project?
The internship was an inspiration for the after-school program because it exposed me to the need in the community and the strategies to address health disparities. The relationship between community work, education, and health has a lot of potential when addressing the social inequities. Currently, the education program only serves elementary school students, but it does not serve high-school students, and my team and I hope to expand the mission of Puentes de Salud.
How do you think your internship and involvement with the after-school program will benefit and impact your nursing career in the future?
My internship and involvement with the after-school program have enriched my nursing career. I hope to continue to work with this population and serve the community holistically. I want to address the social determinants of health in my community and remain an advocate.
What are your future plans for a career in nursing?
In the short-term, I will continue my education via the University of Pennsylvania’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program.