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Mature world view

Graduate's deep attachment to public health founded in life experience

special feature: Student success

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring convocation 2017.

By Marcia Porter

When Rosa Diaz Armas began looking into nursing programs four years ago, the native of Lima, Peru, researched a number of Canadian schools.

It was her mother’s friend, a retired nurse living in Ontario, who recommended Memorial’s program.

Older than average

“She said it was a good school, with a good reputation,” said Ms. Diaz Armas, who has a degree in audio-visual communications and studied in Peru and the United States before arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Rosa and her mom at Memorial's School of Music.
“I’m so proud of her,” said Rosa Diaz Armas’ mom, who travelled from Peru to see her graduate during convocation.

And even though she is fluent in English, she was a little nervous about beginning a degree at the age of 27 with a group of much younger students.

“I didn’t really look older until I started speaking,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to have any friends because I was so much older.”

Strong opinions

It turned out her fears were unfounded. She made many good friends at the school; in fact, some of her best friends are among the youngest students in the class. And when she speaks, Ms. Diaz Armas’ command of the English language is impressive—not only because of how she uses language, but because of what she says. She has strong opinions about health care and the health-care system.

“I’m able to have conversations that I think my classmates find interesting. I have a more international perspective and what I want people to know is that the perceptions they have about a place could be wrong. I think the media can give us the wrong ideas.”

‘Health care is a right’

Ms. Diaz Armas’ mom was a nurse in Lima for 35 years; her dad still works there as a physician. Health care is publicly funded and universal, even for tourists.

Not many people outside of Peru, particularly in North America, know that.

“Health care is a right and that is a deep belief I have,” said Ms. Diaz Armas, who hopes to use her skills in audio-visual storytelling to help introduce and educate people about different health-care ideas and practices around the world.

“I think we need to focus on what we have, to have a positive view and build on what we have.” — Rosa Diaz Armas

She says that “we can do better,” and that it’s good to travel and see that there are people in the world with less.

“We have a few issues here in Newfoundland and Labrador, it’s true. But, for example, in small communities in the Andes people are poor, yet they do a lot with what they have. In small communities here there is access to more resources and I think we need to focus on what we have, to have a positive view and build on what we have.”

A career begun

Ms. Diaz Armas’ work as a personal care attendant at St. Patrick’s Mercy Home in St. John’s to help cover tuition and living expenses has led to a position in nursing following graduation this week.

“I know most of the residents and staff and it’s familiar to me,” said Ms. Diaz Armas, who is committed to the idea of nursing the whole person: the physical, emotional, the spiritual and the social.

“That’s my idea of nursing. Every one of us is, in essence, the same. We have similar needs.”

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