The Power of Like Icons

Last Friday I attended a MILES meeting. For those who don’t know what MILES is Men Incorporating Leadership and Exploration through Service. I enjoy going to MILES. You can always learn something new if you keep an open mind. In our MILES meeting, we had a guest speaker and Geneseo Alum Mr. Andre Doeman come in to discuss minorities and their misrepresentation as well as stereotypes in the media. Doeman talked a lot about his experiences teaching in the inner-city of Rochester. Most of the kids he teaches are of disenfranchised backgrounds. They have a shared culture of poverty which puts well within the achievement gap as we learned from Chipman The Power of Realistic Expectations.

Mr. Doeman explains how all the kids he teaches have similar dreams. They all dream of being professional athletes, actors, or rappers and the like. He noticed very few had dreams of being doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, or other types of well-educated professionals. He when he asked his students why did they dream to be basketball players and rappers and not something else. What made those careers appeal to them over all the other possibilities. He was meet with blank stares by most of them. Not one of them had a concrete reason. No one had ever stopped to question their motives. The majority of them didn’t question it themselves. Why is that?

He came to an epiphany. He realized the kids he works with only have exposure to those influences. All if any of the successful men and women of color they see are in those career fields. In an article, I read titled The Racial Achievement Gap, Segregated Schools, and Segregated Neighborhoods: A Constitutional Insult The author Rothenstein claims “if a child grows up in a poor neighborhood, moving up and out to a middle-class area is typical for whites but an aberration for blacks. Black neighborhood poverty is thus more multigenerational, while white neighborhood poverty is more episodic One of the only outside influences that circumvent the achievement gap is media influence. Doeman explained that one of the greatest things to combat negative self-image in children of color is to have positive role models in the media they consume. What do kids all watch? Cartoons. What do cartoons often have? Super heroes. How many superheroes of color exist. The answer is not many. The ones that do have little to no screenplay. He brought up a point that I found very interesting. If we have more superheroes of color perhaps we would have more aspiring heroes in communities of color.

My Aspiration in Life

As it stands I am a Biology major with a pre-med track here at SUNY Geneseo. It is my greatest aspiration to become a doctor. In my opinion, many people go into medicine for the wrong reasons. There motivated by money and status. Sadly those who go into it for the right reasons are often under-resourced and lack the means.When I say “I want to be a doctor,” I say it because of my ardent belief that I want to dedicate my life to the care of others. I am privileged to have learned my passions at an early age. Don’t get me wrong there are many people who feel the same way. There are multiple ways of helping other people that do not involve medicine. I have personally decided to be a doctor because I feel it is the best way I can make a positive difference in this world. I genuinely believe my talents lie in treating patients.

I understand I have picked a particularly hard path.There are other ways of treating patients. There are so many options that range from nursing to therapy. I have thought of the other options. It is not entirely impossible for me to change my mind and pursue one of those other options. I hope to be a doctor because of the fact that I would be able to treat multiple people every day. In my experiences as a CNA, I’ve learned that you can do a lot of good by having prolonged interactions with your patients. Believe me, that is meaningful, but it is also limiting the amount of disease I can eradicate. Through my experiences in health care both as a CNA and EMS, I discovered a greater appreciation for life, particularly the delicate balance in maintaining it. When I finish college I plan on going to med school. My interest and knowledge in medicine have only grown with time. I hope to reach my aspirations and affect as many lives as I can within my own.

True Marks of a Leader

Leadership has played a great role in my life. Most people believe leadership is synonymous with authority over others. A leader is someone who is willing to make sacrifices it if it means the betterment of their community. In my life, I have had many role models who have gone out of their way to give me direction. I am very grateful for all their help as I surely would not be where I am without assistance. The sacrifices we make on the behalf others to ensure the good of the commonwealth is, in my opinion, the most defining characteristic of a leader. A leader must have the willingness to assume responsibility for a difficult situation. It’s easy to take credit for the good but it’s another to accept the blame for the bad. As humans we are not infallible, therefore we need leaders who can maintain order in times of doubt.

Great leaders dedicate themselves to a life of service Service is the active process of creating change that benefits the community. Service is a very important part of my life. I believe we are all as strong as our weakest links, therefore we should all take steps to help one another. In Geneseo, I observe the practice of service through my work in Geneseo First Response(GFR). GFR for those unfamiliar is the on-campus EMS service coordinated and perpetrated by students. In doing so I play an active role in maintaining the safety and well-being of all Geneseo community members. It has given me the opportunity to create a real difference in the lives of those around me. We can all contribute to the service of others if we take the opportunities allotted to us.


Lastly, a leader must have the ability to empower. I think of empowerment I think of education. There is nothing more empowering than seeking out an education. Advocating for the education of oneself and others is extremely important. The learning process is continuous,  the quest for education is a lifelong journey. It is my personal mantra that if armed with the proper knowledge we are capable of achieving any goal we can imagine, and or reach any level in society that we dare to aspire to despite the expectations of others. Education gives access to a world of limitless possibilities. Nothing in this world will keep one from obtaining their goals if well educated. There is nothing more empowering than that.

Being on GFR

One of my favorite things about joining Geneseo First Response has been picking up a new identity. People come up to me saying “I didn’t know you were a GFR”.  Not “I didn’t know you were apart of GFR.” As if it is my whole being is summed up in that acronym. I’ve come to terms with my identity as “A GFR”. When you wear the uniform you embody the role of the organization. I am fortunate enough to a part of GFR. GFR for those unfamiliar is the on-campus EMS service coordinated and perpetrated by students. In doing so I play an active role in maintaining the safety and well-being of all Geneseo community members. It is a rewarding experience as well as a taxing one. When on duty for 12-24 hours I am prepared to uproot my daily activities for the benefit of others. This includes possibly missing instructional class time which is to my detriment. I am happy to do it if it means a safer campus. It is very probable that you may one day need an ambulance at one point or another. It is my sincere hope most of you never have to utilize my services.

I am unable to mention specifics of my work and it’s beneficiaries due to the HIPPA laws. I will say that GFR has had a profound impact on the lives of everyone in Geneseo, myself included. Everyone at some point in their time here will be affected if at all at least indirectly by the work my colleagues and I do. I have benefited so much from my work at GFR. I have gained so much practical experience in the career I intend to pursue. It has given me the opportunity to create a real difference in the lives of those around me. Academically it has been very sobering. Life is not to be taken for granted. That is becoming more and more apparent. Now more than ever I am dedicated to making the most out of my education. It also helps to have good role models with similar mindsets and aspirations.

Tales of a Young CNA

Since before middle school I knew I wanted to be a doctor. In high school, I knew I could start gaining some experience in health care. I was lucky that my Anatomy & Physiology teacher recognized my dedication to medicine. She introduced me to the Geriatric Career Development (GCD) Program. Though GCD I was able to obtain certification as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). GCD exposed me to what it truly means to be a healthcare provider. Through the program, I was able to gain a lot experience in patient care. I am blessed to have had that opportunity at such a young age. Most people only become CNAs when they go to seek full-time vocational training at a community college. I was able to do it in high school without taking a gap year. I learned many things about the intricacies of human interaction.

I was able to see amazing things in the nursing home I worked in. I worked in the physical and occupational therapy and rehabilitation floor. It was a very sobering experience seeing people some of which were athletes who have lost their ability to move. There was a young woman about my age now who was almost completely paralyzed due to meningitis. There was a 36-year-old biology teacher who was a single father trying to get back to his daughter. Those are some of the types of patients I helped treat. I also worked in the Alzheimer’s and dementia unit. The contrast between the two so different. One one hand you have people desperate to reattain their normalcy. On the other, there are people who are so far gone lost in their fragmented memories the can no longer function.  

As a CNA you play a vital role in the care of elderly and or injured patients. We help care for the essentials, giving dignity to those who can not care for themselves. Caring for someone’s basic needs is a very intimate thing: feeding, ambulation, perineal care are all essential tasks I performed. The practical training and real-world experiences have been an invaluable step in realizing my goals. When patients are admitted to a nursing home, they tend to be defensive. They are often not there of their own volition but rather familial pressure. People are prideful, which makes them unable to come to terms with their physical and mental decline. I have learned that acceptance is a gradual process, and we must show compassion to those seeking it. Through my experience as a CNA, I have learned not only the value, but the difference compassion can make when healing the sick. Above all I learned how to be objective, providing equal care to all in spite of racial hostility, disability, or mental illness. I learned that despite age or background or sexual orientation we are all people who long to be cared for and reassured by a sense of security.

The Disillusion of the Underprivileged


“Why are you talking in a British accent ?” When I was in the 5th grade, I was suddenly asked this question. At first, I confused as to why I would be asked this. I was most certainly speaking American English just as plainly as one would hear anyone speak in the northeastern United States. I asked my classmate what he meant by “British accent,” although I was sure I already knew what it meant. He was implying that because I am a minority, as opposed to being white, I could not be well spoken let alone educated. It was one thing when I was underestimated by people of a different ethnicity, but it was particularly disheartening since he was a fellow Hispanic. He was trying to say that because I am not white, I am therefore not educated. In his eyes, the only way to be educated was through the color of my skin. As if the only criteria that qualified being educated was being white, implying that the two terms were interchangeable and synonymous with each other. That level of ignorance and prejudice truly opened my eyes to the society we live in today, where we are taught self-hate and are criticized for the things that make us unique. I was terrified of that dangerous mindset and, although it was disturbing, that clash of ideologies gave me greater insight into my future prospects. I would not let my self-worth be defined by the misconceptions of the weak-willed, who would allow these stigmas reign with unrivaled deference. Even so, I could not find myself feeling any malice or ill will towards this boy. He like many others, fell victim to a lack of self-regard, belittling others due to lack of their own self-esteem and shortcomings.

“Stop acting white,” he said as if to clarify, further justifying my beliefs. I later found out that his bigoted views are clearly shared amongst many, as this was not the last time I heard a similar sentiment. People often assume that my culture and socioeconomic background tether me to racial stigmas. I am perceived as “ghetto”, “uneducated”, and “inarticulate”, simply because of where I come from.

Once I became cognizant of my situation, I began to resent the overarching stigmas that set limitations on my success. As a child, I was always taught to be proud of my heritage, but I was disappointed to discover that others viewed it as a hindrance to my education. It was upon this realization that the fanciful idealism of childhood, was shattered. I grew to be cynical about humanities fixed views. I made it my mission to become the aberration that would not only supersede, but prevail societal stereotypes. Education would be the vessel in which I overcame this societal mandate.

Through the accumulation of knowledge, I was able to edify myself to the point at which failure was no longer an option. This, in turn, has given me the drive and determination to overcome any obstacle and or barriers that attempt to deter me from accomplishing my goals. Education would give me access to a world of limitless possibilities. No longer, would I be restrained by the false barriers and platitudes of those who would condescend me?

           The more experienced I become, the more I realize that life is a continuous learning process and, that the quest for education is a lifelong journey. I firmly believe in the power of education. It is my personal mantra that if armed with the proper knowledge we are capable of achieving any goal we can imagine, and or reach any level in society that we dare to aspire, despite the expectations of others. I would not have come to this realization, if not, for the boy in 5th grade, who asked me, to “stop acting white”.

Joining GFR and Feelings of Doubt

I remember just how excited I was when I got the email. “Congratulations you have selected you to become a probationary member of SUNY Geneseo First Response. Welcome to GFR!” I was in utter shock. 135 applicants and I was one on the 13 to make the cut. Me a lowly freshman. There are people who apply every semester until their senior year and never get the opportunity. Somehow I got in. I was practically skipping. It may not have been the most prudent thing to do, but I wanted to tell the world. I was really excited. I told my RA “I got into GFR”. His response was “I love eating there”. I was so confused. My first thought was we don’t serve food. In my excitement, I completely forgot the restaurant existed. I clarified “Not Geneseo Family Restaurant. Geneseo First Response.” We laughed it about for a while. Then he congratulated me. I told all my friends I got in and they were all happy for me including the ones who didn’t get in themselves.

I felt I was on top of the world. Things were great. However, I found myself relating to Chipman’s The Power of Realistic Expectations “Think about starting a new job. You’re trying to figure out the landscape. It was a really competitive search. You feel fortunate to have gotten the job, but then you’re really worried about whether you’re going to fit in. What happens if you stumble? We all make mistakes on the job” I realized the achievement gap is a mental battle more than anything else. Like in most of Geneseo I find myself an outlier in GFR. Not many people look like me. In fact, I am the only Hispanic male in the organization. I began to feel doubt in my abilities. I’ve reached my goal of getting in, but what about fitting in? Getting in is only half the battle. How do I prove my worth? What if I mess up? If I do I reflect badly on more than just myself. I know it may be irrational, but what if I’m just a test run. Could I harm someone else’s chances of getting in? These were all thoughts circulating in my mind.

 There is no need to feel uneasy. The thing that no one tells you when you stand out is that it doesn’t necessarily paint a target on your back. Much of what you may fear is only in your mind. As I took more shifts and got to know everyone a bit better my fears dissipated. My mentor is super supportive and I get along with just about everyone.