When the Past Shapes the Future

When the Past Shapes the Future

By: Lee Kirby (he/him pronouns)

They say our past sculpts our future, and that couldn’t be more accurate.

While serving in the Peace Corps in Liberia, I was evacuated due to the 2014 West Africa Ebola epidemic. Now to up the ante, I’m graduating from the MSN (Entry into Nursing) Program amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read “Trading Places,” about Kirby’s path from Peace Corps to Johns Hopkins 

I’m fascinated by working on the frontlines and with infectious disease. In August, I will begin working in University of Maryland Medical Center’s downtown Baltimore emergency department, which I hope to use as a steppingstone to my real dream job—international crisis relief with an organization like Doctors Without Borders. Eventually I want to return to Liberia and the people I had to leave behind.

For now, I help out in little ways—making PPE (personal protective equipment) for Hopkins nurses, volunteering at the Hopkins Unified Incident Command Center, and informally educating neighbors and family about how to protect themselves from the virus. And I’m learning as much as I can about contact tracing and other epidemiology skills so I can hit the ground running.

I’m itching to finally use my clinical skills, especially when the need couldn’t be higher.

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Lee Kirby (he/him) is a transmasculine, MSN (Entry into Nursing) alumni, HIV tester and counselor, and active LGBTQ+ advocate. He was a Peace Corps health volunteer working primarily on HIV and malaria education, and empowering women and youth in Mozambique. His goal is to eventually travel and assist with Ebola crisis relief with international NGOs. At Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, he was on the executive boards of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Gertrude Stein Society, and Men in Nursing, hosting events to bring awareness around equality.

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