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This May during AAPI Heritage Month, the VCU School of Nursing celebrates and recognizes Asian and Pacific Islander nurses and nursing students. We spoke to Angela Dacanay, member of the Class of 2025, about the ways in which the school supports cultural and ethnic diversity, as well as how she hopes to improve the healthcare industry for future AAPI students.

What experiences helped you decide to become a nurse?  

Throughout my academic career, I knew that I always wanted to be in the healthcare field. From being in the Health and Science Specialty Center at Cosby High School [in Chesterfield County, Virginia], to volunteering at hospitals such as John Randolph Medical Center, and VCU MCV Hospital, I was always surrounded by a team of healthcare professionals that had the same goals as me—to aid others to the best of our ability, in a compassionate and empathetic manner. 

While being surrounded by individuals with wide-ranging careers, I discovered that nursing is best suited for me because it is the backbone of healthcare. Whether that be in hospitals, clinics, offices, or home settings, nurses are the true backbone in making the healthcare field what it is. 

How does the VCU School of Nursing support minority students such as Asian American and Pacific Islander communities? 

I think the School of Nursing is doing a great job in showcasing the diversity in their programs. However, I think it can do a better job in terms of actually supporting AAPI communities. Yes, there are more AAPI students in the school, but there should be more events that provide opportunities for AAPI students to learn and engage with. For example, opportunities for learning about one’s own culture, bringing healthcare workers in the AAPI community for us to learn, and letting others that are not within the AAPI community learn about different cultures and ethnicities. This is just one way for VCU SON to support our community and allow people to learn and grow with us.

Do you have any favorite memories or lessons you’ve learned from nursing school so far?

My favorite memory from nursing school so far is being able to bond with my clinical group! They’re all amazing and smart individuals and I am so grateful to be able to learn with them and from them.

What do you hope to do with your nursing education after you graduate? 

After I graduate, I hope to work in a hospital and take that experience into travel nursing.

What advice would you give to other nursing students, particularly those from ethnic minority communities? The advice I would give to other nursing students is to never be afraid to ask for help. Seek advice. Turn to your peers. Questions always turn into discussion when it comes to new material and the motivation to learn. To those in ethnic minorities, the same advice applies, but always rely on those in your community to lift you up. Use the connections you have. Let them be your motivation, and in turn let them rely on YOU to be their motivation. Being able to strive in your own community and as a result your community striving because of you is an amazing feeling. Let your community be your rock, know that they believe you will be successful because you can and you will.

Categories News, Students