Through Their Eyes
As coordinator of the Dunbar Hopkins Enrichment Program, Nikki Akinleye has rebuilt and enhanced an initiative that introduces juniors and seniors from Baltimore’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School to the profession of nursing. Faculty and students work with Akinleye to give the high schoolers five to six weeks of classes covering clinical skills, degree options, resume building, job opportunities, and more. For most students, it’s their first introduction to skills needed for a health care profession, and it makes a lasting impact.
“They love this program, and it’s an investment in their future,” says Akinleye. “Many high schoolers focus on grades, but the confidence they gain by working hands-on with nurses is just as important to their success. There are not enough people in the world who say ‘you can do this,’ but I’ve seen the mindset of these students change as they see where knowledge and determination can take them.”
For Akinleye, the program has become a passion and added immense value to her own education. “You get a feeling of rejuvenation even though you’re juggling to do your own school work. I do it because I know someone is watching me, looking to know they can do it too. I try to follow what I tell the high schoolers—be academically strong, but learn to balance. It’s your time to be young, but the decisions you make today affect your lives tomorrow.”