St. Joseph’s Student Selected as Participant for Prestigious Medical Forum

Mersayis, a St. Joseph’s Indian School student, said goodbye to the amber waves of grain of the Midwest, and hello to the blue waves of the Pacific Ocean for an adventure she will never forget.

Mersayis took a few deep breaths before boarding a plane headed to California. At 17 years old, this flight would be the St. Joseph’s Indian School student’s first flight.

Although the idea of traveling alone to an unknown place may seem like a daunting experience for some, Mersayis harnessed her bravery and took her seat. Before she knew it, she’d be at the University of California Berkeley for a week-long experience as a participant of the National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) Medicine & Health Care.

Being selected for NYFL is no easy feat, as many students apply each year. Mersayis, an aspiring nurse, was the only student from South Dakota selected for the opportunity after her high school’s Health Occupations Students of America club advisor nominated her and Krista, St. Joseph’s Alumni Relations Coordinator, helped with her application and travel plans.

“I was very nervous to be there alone and not know anyone, but I feel like it showed me how it would potentially be in the real world when I do travel alone,” said Mersayis.

Once her feet arrived at Berkeley, it was time for her to see if her dream of being a nurse could match what she’d envisioned. She was there to experience the collegiate lifestyle firsthand, learn from doctors, participate in an interactive curriculum, visit an accredited medical school, test her medical knowledge during clinical skills rotations and explore professional opportunities among fellow high school students.

Mersayis, center, and other program participants pose for a photo between classes.

A typical day began in classrooms at 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to learn new things about various medical professions and topics. After a break for lunch, Mersayis and the other participants from across the United States were given some free time before returning to classrooms at 1:30 p.m. for more medical lessons. Supper followed from 5-6 p.m., with a medical speaker rounding out the day from 7-8 p.m.

“The parts of the program that made the biggest impression for me were when they took us to medical places,” said Mersayis. “For example, they took us to the simulation center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. They also took us to a couple universities. At one university we saw a real human heart!”

Mersayis, right, participated in interactive curriculum throughout the NYFL experience.

Seeing real medical professionals in action and speaking about their fields of practice was inspiring to Mersayis.

“Something I took away from this experience is how nurses and doctors, or any person in the medical field, truly take their jobs seriously — how much they want to help people,” said Mersayis. “When I decided I wanted to be in the medical field, the main reason was because I love helping people. The doctors and nurses showed me that their number one priority is to help the patient and work in the safest way possible.”

It was an experience Mersayis won’t soon forget.

“I would rate my experience a 10,000 out of 10! I loved it! Although I was very, very nervous I feel like this was a great learning experience in many different ways!” said Mersayis.

While Mersayis, front left, gained new knowledge of various medical fields, she also gained new friends!

Invigorated by her experience, Mersayis didn’t need to harness so much bravery or take as many deep breaths on that flight home to South Dakota. She’d accomplished what she had set out to achieve and had learned so much about the medical field. Not only that, but she also got a taste of what she’s capable of as a person — someone who was able to step out of her comfort zone and go for something big.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped me experience this opportunity, it was amazing in every single way possible,” said Mersayis. “St. Joe’s helped me with the fundraising and plane tickets. Being away from home and traveling by myself was very scary, but I had multiple staff who checked in on me, which meant a lot.”

Philámayaye — thank you — to the generous donors at St. Joseph’s Indian School who support educational experiences and opportunities for our Native American students, like Mersayis. Because of you, students are reaching and working toward their dreams of a brighter future.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

5 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Student Selected as Participant for Prestigious Medical Forum”

  1. So very happy for her, and she had the courage to travel and find her future, Blessings always around her, and St, Joseph’s for all the wonderful love and work they do to support the people,

  2. Congratulations Mersayis! Grab these opportunities when they are presented to you and you will go far. I think that the continued support you will receive from St. Joseph’s will help ensure your future success.

  3. Mike and I are so VERY PROUD of you Mersayis.
    We know you have such a caring spirit and will make a wonderful nurse.
    Your future is indeed bright. Shoot for the stars. Mike and I will be rooting for you all of the way!
    Bette & Mike

  4. Congratulations Mersayis. The world is yours and I know you will be very successful in the medical field.


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