At the recent Mikva Challenge Youth Summit, Sharon was teaching a group of high school youth about health careers, finding a passion for health and how to administer emergency first aid. Sharon a freshman at University of Illinois – Chicago, already has a full time job as the UIC Champions network coordinator. A job usually reserved for college graduates.
Sharon’s first involvement with Mikva was at small polling place in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood where Sharon grew up. At the age of 16 Sharon served as an election judge. “I had a great experience but I wasn’t looking to get into Mikva. My Spanish teacher, Ms. Colon made it a requirement to apply for a summer job. I then found out about the summer program and choose the Mikva Challenge Teen Health Council.”
“Health and medicine has and continues to be my passion. Since I was a kid I knew I wanted to a pediatrician because of my love for kids and the opportunity to help people. I come from a low income community and want to work with and give back to patients from similar backgrounds.”
Sharon enjoyed Mikva from the start. “I immediately thought the office was cool because of the bright colors. When I went for the interview the staff were super engaging and acted like we had known each other for a long time. I was lucky to meet most of my council before the summer and we immediately clicked and became a family. To this day we all still talk about our moments at Mikva.” Sharon is most proud of the policy recommendations the group created. One in particular is meaningful to Sharon because of her own personal experiences: Making Chicago clinics more comfortable and youth-friendly. Sharon has battled thyroid cancer since she was a child. “Being in the hospital was half of my life since I was 5 years old.” Discovering all the different doctors I have had and being able to see doctors who show kindness and make an effort to have fun and lift your spirits meant a lot to me. The hospital can be a sad and confusing place.”
Sharon, is majoring in Sociology and is on the Pre-med track. Sharon plans to become a pediatrician. As the UIC Champions Coordinator she enjoys the hands on experience at UIC hospital and the opportunity to interact with patients, hear their stories and shadow surgeons, sometimes stepping in during real live surgeries.
Through Mikva Sharon learned some important skills about speaking up for herself and others. “If an adult puts me down I have a way to advocate for myself and make my point clear. At my job I am the youngest one there. I am able to go into the weekly meetings and speak confidently about things like the budget and the work we are doing.”
Sharon’s wisdom to remaining positive: “Surround yourself with good people and people with good vibes and telling yourself you are strong and it doesn’t matter how bad things go you can always get better. Always tell yourself you are a survivor.”