Refugees and Immigrants in Health Care Careers

JFCS has been proud to host the presentation of the Jeff and Phyllis Osbourn Scholarship at our annual MOSAIC dinner. With the emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year we have chosen to present this award virtually to ensure the safety of the community. The Jeff and Phyllis Osbourn Scholarship Fund at the Legacy Foundation of Kentuckiana (formerly Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation) recognizes an immigrant or refugee pursuing a career in nursing or other high-demand healthcare fields.

The Osbourn Scholarship fits well at MOSAIC and with Jewish Family & Career Services because of the agency’s regionally recognized focus on re-credentialing and career laddering for refugees and immigrants in Greater Louisville.

Harriet N. Ako is the 2020 Osburn Scholarship winner. Here is Harriet’s story in her own words.

My life has taken me through different education systems in countries, including Ghana, the United Kingdom and America. My diverse educational background has enabled me to connect well and understand individuals from different walks of life.  Nursing as a career entails patient and family centered care, patient teaching, preventative measures and optimal patient outcome.  I believe my familiarity and background in both Psychology and Sciences would enable me to do so well.

My desire to join healthcare as a Nurse stems from a collective of reasons. My first focus, of course, is on experience but ultimately what I can provide on a global scale and what I can contribute for the betterment of healthcare in general.

Ultimately, I would like to be a Nurse Anesthetist. I believe that learning through experience and building a strong foundation is essential. Therefore, I just got offered a part-time job as a Nursing Assistant in a Thoracic and Vascular Surgery Unit. That, I believe, will help me gain the fundamental understanding of being a Nurse. Nursing career allows Nurses to work with different health care professionals. My goal after Nursing school is to work as a civilian and then join the U.S. military as a Nurse.

At age 16 in 2010, I moved from the rural part of Ghana to the United Kingdom with no basic computer knowledge and difficulty understanding the British accent. With hard work and determination, I graduated with an Associate Degree in Applied Science (2012) with a focus on Biology, Chemistry  and Physics, and achieved a 4.00 GPA. I continued my education to Manchester Metropolitan University for a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Science but was cut short to a certificate due to inadequate financing and permanent residency expiration.

My stepfather, who decided not to support my University education, also refused to sign a renewal of my United Kingdom permanent residency in 2015. After exhausting every possible help point, my only choice remained moving to Ghana or becoming an illegal immigrant in the U.K.

I moved back to Ghana in 2015 at age 21, and fortunately, my husband moved me to live in America in 2016. After our first daughter was born in January 2017, I went back to University of Alabama at Birmingham in August 2017. During the spring semester of March 2018, I was involved in a car accident while pregnant with our second daughter but stayed determined and graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies focusing on Science and Psychology in December 2018. Finally, I moved to Louisville in May 2019 for Nursing School. Through determination, resiliency and self-motivation, the possibility of achieving a goal is endless.

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