As a high school freshman, Shantae McDowell attended a presentation that she assumed would be another lecture telling teens what not to do. Instead, the speakers from Sharp HealthCare’s ThinkFirst/Sharp on Survival program helped her discover exactly what she was meant to do.
ThinkFirst/Sharp on Survival is designed to educate young people about preventing traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Health care professionals offer potential lifesaving information, and individuals living with disabilities openly share how they might have avoided their injuries by making safer choices.
“Something about it really touched me,” says McDowell. “The presentation was offered again in my junior year and I chose to go even though I had already seen it. Shortly after, I toured a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center and everything they had talked about came back to me in a very real way.”
McDowell later interned at a hospital and was able to practice what she had learned from ThinkFirst/ Sharp on Survival. She knew she had found her calling and decided to pursue a career in nursing.
“I was taking a Disabilities and Society class during the second year of my pre-nursing program at San Diego State University and, once again, found myself at another presentation,” says McDowell. “I asked how I can best use the information I’ve gathered over the years listening to them speak. And the answer was simple: Always treat people like people.”
Soon after, whether it was coincidence or fate, a randomly selected assignment placed her on a hospital’s spinal cord injury floor during her first clinical nursing rotation.
“The message I heard in those presentations continues to speak to me, and the personal stories shared add meaning to every patient interaction I have.”
Learn more about Sharp’s community and health education programs.