As the school year comes to an end, it's the start of the beginning for graduating high school seniors.
Kaci Anderson, 18, is preparing to graduate from Dallas ISD's IDEA High School, Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy.
Over the last four years, she's accomplished a lot in terms of grades and also being a leader. She has been the president of the student council for the past four years, president of the Black Engineers Society and created a club called 'Black Excellence.'
She's always been driven, but during the past year, the pandemic amped up her motivation to enter the medical field.
"It was shocking because you hear about it and for someone you actually knew and grew up with to pass from it (COVID-19), it is impactful," said Anderson about a close friend's grandmother who was like family to her.
The Oak Cliff native said she also saw how the coronavirus impacted communities of color like her own. It was even more solidified during her internship as a data analyst at PCCI, Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, which helped tracked COVID-19 data over the past year in Dallas County.
This solidified her yearning to want to become a nurse and also help add diversity to the health care industry.
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"I want to innovate the health care industry as a whole, from the racial aspect and from just innovative period," said Anderson. ”Through my internship at Parkland I did realize that we can better what we have now and this isn’t as far as we’re going to go and also with the stats, when it comes down to representation, within the health care industry, we have to change those numbers."
She said she wants to make sure communities of color feel comfortable going to the doctor's office.
“Given the current situation of our country, you can see having someone that looks like you will impact the overall experience," said Anderson who was inspired by a recent visit to a nurse practitioner's office where the entire staff was of color.
“If you’ve never seen it, you don’t know that it’s obtainable from that aspect but I’m the type of person, I’m a visionary and not everyone is like that so I'm going to be the type of person where others can look to and say, ‘Well if she did it, then I can do it as well," said Anderson about achieving her dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner herself.
The teen is on her way to doing just that. She was accepted into more than 11 universities, including Howard and Spellman. Some of the schools she received offers to, she hadn't even applied to.
In total, she was offered more than $500,000 in scholarships.
Anderson said with so many options, she ended up choosing Regis University in Denver, CO.
"I picked Regis because of their joint masters and science in nursing program along with their doctorate program, but also because of their mission statement," said Anderson.
She said the school focuses on the whole patient versus just the symptom, which is a goal of hers as a future caretaker.
“10 years from now I will be a nurse practitioner, owning and operating my own practice and from recent conversations, I might be running for president, a lot of people have been inspiring me to and I think I can do it, I’ll keep you guys posted," said Anderson.