Jennifer Bushnell, MEd, MLS(ASCP)CM
Diversity is often interpreted as a complex web of issues involving individuals who differ in ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and many other types of attributes. Although some individuals may never agree upon certain topics or belief systems, an open mind and willingness to respect such differences can foster a refreshing atmosphere of comradery. No matter a person’s belief system or origin, most would agree we are more alike than different.
In one decade, McNeese State University’s Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) Program will have graduated 36 international or first-generation students from 10 different countries, with Nepal representing more than half of these students. When considering percentages, 26 percent (36 out of 136 graduates) is indeed a significant number for any size city, especially for Lake Charles, Louisiana, whose population is just under 80,000.
McNeese State University
College of Nursing and Health Professions
Department of Radiologic and Medical Laboratory Sciences
Number of International or First-Generation MLS Graduates
May 2009-May 2019*
*All students are in good standing and are expected to graduate by May 2019.
For some, these statistics will no doubt necessitate a second glance; these numbers certainly made me look twice. Why would this many international students choose a small university in the southwest corner of Louisiana?
When presented with exit surveys and student evaluations of instruction, student comments remained the same year after year: “Small class sizes. Sincere. Helpful. Asks for class opinion. Very approachable. Encouraging and kind.” And my favorite: “Great stories. They help us remember!”
Surely, it wasn’t that simple. Was it really just kindness and going the extra half mile to help someone that attracted so many international and first-generation students?
We’ve all seen the inspirational quotes encouraging us to “be kinder than necessary, for everyone we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about.” While these words ring true for each of us, consider being thousands of miles away from family and friends and adding a foreign language to your everyday problems. Most of us would throw in the towel after translating Enterobacteriaceae and catch the first flight home!
Last, but not least, let us consider the challenges of international student athletes. They’re away from home, perfecting a foreign language, working through early morning and late-night practices, and enduring miles of travel with their favorite earbuds. McNeese’s MLS program has witnessed firsthand the hard work put in by these athletes. We currently have four international athletes in our program, including two seniors: Cynthia Rivas, a basketball player from Guadalajara; and Anderson Yego, a cross country runner from Kenya. These students have a work ethic like none other, often attending two-hour practices before their 9:30 am lectures.
While we recognize the unique challenges of each of our students, including single parents and older students returning to school, our diverse student population has undeniably brought a distinctive learning environment to our program. Our faculty members have taken family photos with proud parents, danced at Nepali night while wearing beautiful saris, shared native recipes, cheered at sporting events, and even cried with a student who couldn’t attend her mother’s funeral. If we allow diversity to become a complex web of issues, it will most certainly indulge our choices. For McNeese State University’s Medical Laboratory Science Program, diversity continues to be a beautiful and enriching experience for all involved.
MEET ANDERSON KIMUTAI YEGO, MLS STUDENT
My name is Anderson Kimutai Yego; born in April of 1994 in a small village in Nandi County, Rift Valley Province in the Republic of Kenya. I grew up in a humble background and was brought up by a caring and hardworking parent. Perhaps her sacrifices and hard work motivated me to stay on top of my toes, to work hard, and to become successful in life.
Like any other child, I started my pre-elementary school in 2000 through 2001 at Koisolik and later in 2002 transferred to Lolkeringet Primary School. In 2007, I was then transferred to Kaiboi Primary School where I completed my primary school education and sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam in 2009. I was then admitted to Kabiyet Boys High School for my Secondary school education.
While in high school, my enthusiasm in logically orientated subjects persuaded me to take up sciences and mathematics as my concentration subjects. As I progressed throughout high school, I developed a passion in acquiring knowledge in various fields, one of which was any medical related field.
During my freshman year in high school, I developed an interest in athletic activities and started running. Soon after I completed high school, I joined my friends who were training as runners in pursuit of their dreams. With the success of my elder brother, Joshua, I was very optimistic that my running career would eventually pay off. In spring of 2015, I was admitted to McNeese State University as a Nursing Major, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I changed my major to Medical Laboratory Science (MLS).
I am very happy and satisfied to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in this field. My experiences and skills in MLS have prepared me to become a better person in society. I appreciate the contribution and work of a medical laboratory scientist, not only within the health facility, but also in the community at large. I personally hold the view that at the end of this program I will have acquired the basic and necessary aptitude, skills, and knowledge to excel in medical laboratory science.
Join the ASCLS Diversity Advocacy Council at connect.ascls.org.