Ildaura Murillo-Rohde was born in Panama in 1920 and came to the U.S. when she was 25. She completed a nursing diploma, and her first nursing job was at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. She was surprised to find that there were few Hispanic nurses in the hospital even though the hospital served a predominately Hispanic population. Her Hispanic background and her fluency in Spanish were essential for her caregiving function. Ildaura decided to devote her life to increasing the number of Hispanic individuals in nursing.
Ildaura decided to continue her education by pursuing degrees in both Nursing and Education. She was the first Hispanic nurse to obtain a Ph.D. from New York University. Her focus was on cultural awareness in nursing.
Among many other significant achievements in her long and distinguished career, Dr. Murillo-Rohde founded the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN). Through NAHN, Dr. Murillo-Rohde worked tirelessly to encourage Hispanic youth to consider nursing as a career. Roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Hispanic. Yet, less than 6 percent of registered nurses are Hispanic.
Human development, the work of developing human capabilities, needs pioneers who not only excel in their life’s work but who also encourage others with their background to contemplate a new vison of who they might become. One of the unspoken tragedies in our society is the self-imposed limits that many young people place on their future—because they don’t see a particular career path as open to people of their identity.
Many career paths present daunting challenges. Finances, cultural isolation, lack of support services, mentoring, and self-doubt are just a few of these challenges.
There is a popular saying that everyone in the movie industry can be connected to the actor Kevin Bacon within six links. This is referred to as “Bacon’s Law” and is embodied in the popular parlor game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Suppose that Bacon’s Law were applied to human development. Take one person in a profession and determine how many persons were influenced and supported by that person to pursue that profession. And then take those individuals and determine how many other persons they influenced and supported. If you follow this approach over a period of years and apply Bacon’s Law, you might be able to greatly expand the number of persons who go on to fulfilling careers that may not initially have seemed possible to them.
Just imagine if all of us had a personal mission of helping young people pursue a career path that may not have seemed possible to them. Just imagine the support we may be able to provide, especially for populations that seem to be excluded from desired careers. Just imagine how our current efforts might multiply over the years to boost future generations of young people to achieve dreams that once seemed out of reach.
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“When you empower people, you’re not influencing just them; you’re influencing all the people they influence.”– John Maxwell (author on leadership)
This is part of our “Just Imagine” series of occasional posts, inviting you to join us in imagining positive possibilities for a citizen-centered democracy.