StoryCorps at SHC: Naomi Kiarie

We’re all just going through this collective grief together.

Naomi Kiarie: I just remember my mom being like, "Whatever you want to do, we'll figure it out." And I was like, "Okay." So she drove me to the airport, it was September of 2019. And by accident, I was supposed to go to Stanford. My recruiter was just like... I was like, "I want to go to California." She's like, "Stanford, this hospital, they've got a great reputation. I think you'll really like it there. It'll be a good place to start." I was like, "Okay, sure." And I was sick to my stomach the whole drive there. And my mom was like, "Are you okay?" And I was just paralyzed sitting in the car. And I was just like, "I don't know, but this is a terrible idea. Let me change my mind change my mind. I don't want to do it." My mom's like, "Just you'll be fine. It'll be fine."

And I think I didn't feel comfortable until maybe the second month I was here, but I was like, "This is great." And then 2020 happened and at first, it was the scary not knowing what COVID was and then having to go to work every day. And then it was watching people come in just scared of... It wasn't so much even the people having COVID. It was the people who had these... This boil that I had noticed on my leg and I didn't really want to come to hospital and I was kind of scared. And now it's this big infection and a lot of those really sad stories of people who've had tumor removals that were pushed back because of the pandemic and all these other really just heartbreaking stories. And it's been really hard to be a nurse in general, but I made so many friends out here that we’re all kind of going through this collective grief together.

And I think having come from just having moments where I'm like, "I don't know when everything's going to be okay", and then having it be okay, I think has been the thing that kept me going. And always remember this quote that one of my coworkers shared with me. It was from Ralph Waldo Emerson, and he says, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived is to have succeeded." And I think about that quote when it's really hard to get up and go to work every day.

And I just think of my mom living in America, not knowing what she wanted to do and having built this for herself. And I just keep thinking like, "Maybe I can keep going." And honestly, I just feel so lucky to have been stuck where I have. I think I've just been generally just happy to be where I am now. I've honestly never felt so supported by managers and people who want you to continue learning, be educated, and to have so many people who just honestly just keep supporting each other, especially now. It feels like I found my work home for sure.

Sound Editor: Amy Hu

We use a transcription service, and though we do check for accuracy, there may be errors. Please contact us if you have any questions.

We'd love to hear from you.

We're here to answer your questions, schedule your recording, and guide you throughout the process.