Image credit: afropreneuriat.net
Gaelle Bulabula is a 24-year-old, finishing her PhD Studies in Nursing. Born and raised in Congo, Gaelle found her way to America seeking an education. Unfortunately, the program she wanted to go into to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, could not accept her as she was not a citizen. Gaelle, however persisted, and chose to pursue her second option, Nursing. She dropped out of the program she was in, in California and moved to Virginia, where she pursued her formal higher education in Nursing. Nursing was her second choice “because it was close to med school and I would still be able to help people through medicine.”
While it was difficult choice to abandon the first dream due to circumstances, Gaelle shared with us that, being a nurse is great, as she actually, “get to spend more time with patients then physicians do. So, that’s a good thing. And I love to learn”, which is something never lacking in a nurse’s life.
Gaelle was not shy on sharing some of the struggles she had encountered on her educational journey. She shares that she was always looking for a Congolese mentor in her field; someone to relate to while she embarked on this journey. But the community she was in, she also received discouragement. “When I came to the US and then moved to West Virginia, there were so many Congolese, but I received a lot of discouragement, because they said, they never saw a Congolese finish school.” So, it became important for her to finish school in that field, so that myth can dissolve. For awhile, there were days she would cry and give up, but somehow, she persisted and kept going. Her major challenge in her nursing journey was language barrier. Coming from a different country and background, she found herself having to re-learn things from zero. Many of her classmates were already familiar with certain terminology and medicine, that she had to quickly learn and catch up so that she can make it through school. At some point, she was hitting the minimum marks to pass nursing classes, but she held onto her courage, her dreams and she kept going.
Although there were many struggles, she also had many victories. She considers her academic accomplishments and making her parents proud of who she has become, major victories. Also, “seeing my patients smiling. Like when patients ask me where I am from, and I tell them my story and they just are proud of me. It’s a good feeling being there for them and just being able to do what I love to do.” She shared with us, that this has kept her going in her profession.
She also shares tid-bits of wisdom to girls aspiring to becoming someone:
“Allow yourself to know what you want. And do not listen to negativity from negative people. If you want to be a doctor, refresh yourself on what you need to do to become a physician, then go for it. There’s no better feeling then knowing that you’re actually trying then not trying at all.