Wednesday, May 4, 2011

KU Medical Center Student Highlighted by the National Rural Health Association

Rural Health Education and Services (RHES) found this article in rural roads, a publication by the National Rural Health Association (NHRA) and wanted it to share it with you.

National Rural Health Association | Rural Roads Online | Spring 2011 | Beginnings and Passages
Beginnings-Aniesa Slack
City life calls student back to country roots

   It took me months to stop waving at every car I met on the road when I moved to the big city. And that was just the beginning of the culture shock that I was about to experience. As a first-generation college student I couldn't wait to get out of Oxford, Kan., population 1,067, and live the life I thought my parents never could.

   I never imagined how much I would miss my country roots, mostly because until I left the farm, I didn't realize that rural life was so different from the rest of the world. 

   My experience has convinced me that rural Americans have a distinct culture, one that crosses socioeconomic strata, encompasses all ethnicities and knows no geographic boundary. Rural doesn't describe a place; it describes a people, my people. But I didn't always see it that way. I spent my undergrad years trying to find myself and my calling. 

   The further I got from home, the more people I met who were shockingly out of touch with any lifestyle not found in metropolitan areas. It was as if urban tunnel vision had created a society blind to the world of rural America. 

   Baffled and discouraged, I called Mom and Dad for advice. There I was, explaining to them how unfortunate it was that my rural culture was misrepresented, taken for granted and misunderstood by the urban majority. But not by me. I identify with rural folks. They represent me, my family and my neighbors. I understand these people, can relate to their problems and empathize with their situations. 

   They deserve a doctor who recognizes the challenges they face and can appreciate the sacrifices they make. And just like that, I realized I had finally found my calling.

Aniesa Slack is a second-year medical student at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and was recently accepted into the Rural Track Program, where she will continue her clerkship rotations in a rural setting. She joined the National Rural Health Association in 2010.

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