Class of 2016 Katelyn Guzman — Addressing Mental Health in Minorities
Through much of her life, Katelyn Guzman and her mother have been a team. So it was inevitable that when her mother developed thyroid disease, Guzman was there to be her advocate, caregiver, and interpreter.
During Guzman’s junior year in school, her mother’s health grew worse. Guzman then experienced the impact of compassionate health care providers. While she was working three part-time jobs and juggling nursing school, caring for her mother took a toll on her. But the nurses and doctors caring for her mother exposed Guzman to the human side of caregivers, and she saw first-hand the profound impact that skilled, empathetic health care providers can have on patients’ lives. And that kind of comfort is what she hopes to give her patients as a future nurse.
Guzman was only 9 when she came to the United States from El Salvador with her mother and her grandmother. As an only child, she enjoyed staunch support from her mother who proudly watched her daughter march in graduation ceremonies on May 7. Guzman is the first in her family to graduate from college in the U.S. Knowing the disparities that exist in access to healthcare, her family and the Latino community have also been major motivators in encouraging her to pursue a career in healthcare. Guzman is a firm believer in the following quote from Cesar Chavez ‘We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.’
Accepted at two private colleges in Atlanta, Guzman picked Georgia State University after learning that she would receive the Goizueta Foundation Leadership Pipeline Scholarship. Former administrative coordinator for scholarship programs Greg Chisholm met the soft-spoken student when she was trying to decide on Georgia State.
“He mentored me and played a big part in making me feel welcome at Georgia State,” she says. Although the nursing school was challenging, Guzman has no regrets about her chosen profession or Georgia State University “because they have provided the most rewarding experiences as well.”
“The community feeling and the opportunities I have had through Georgia State have been amazing and thanks to the Goizueta Scholarship, I’m able to graduate with no debt.”
Mental health nursing attracted Guzman, a calling she found during her mental health rotation at Grady Hospital. Passionate about mental health in minority communities, she sees her future in community mental health.
“Some cultures don’t talk as openly about mental health as physical health,” she says. “It’s important to address this stigma of mental health because, at the end of the day, emotions, behavior, and patterns of thinking do affect physical health and relationships.”
“Addressing health literacy in minority communities is important to me, and I hope to dedicate my life’s work to breaking down those barriers.”
Eventually, Guzman would like to pursue a master’s degree in mental health and also work with Doctors Without Borders in bringing health care to places that need it the most.