I had the opportunity to go to Puerto Cabezas last December and observe first-hand the interview process of our potential new Adelante Mujer doctors. Listening to their stories, I was astounded by their fortitude. Next month I will write more about them individually, but first I want to explain the interview and selection process.
First, applicants must submit to the Executive Director, Sister Ann McKean, the application which is available on the Internet in Spanish, their first or second language. They are asked to also send their grades. Professors don’t have deadlines to submit grades so students are at their mercy as far as timing is concerned. Sending the application can be a challenge in itself because many don’t have computers, and even if they do, the Internet is very expensive and spotty.
Students must make it through the first year on their own since we only accept new students in years 2 through 5. They are required to have and maintain an 80% GPA. We want to support the best of the best. This may not seem like an unreasonable requirement, but consider that children are only required by law to attend school until age 12. Any education they receive after that is up to them and it isn’t free. It takes an extraordinary effort to get as far as the university.
Sisters Ann or Diane Bauknecht have been going to Puerto Cabezas twice a year to meet with all of the students and applicants. It is our challenge to communicate with the students. Most use Facebook or Messenger but some don’t have e-mail or telephone to tell them where and when we will be there. Additionally we don’t always know much ahead of time the exact dates.
When students do come to meet with us, most of them walk a great distance because they cannot afford a cab and don’t have vehicles.
If they are not working long hours in the hospital, they’re often working other jobs and studying.
Part of the interview is to talk about their family situation. In a culture where girls can become mothers at very early ages, we always ask if they have children and if so, how they are cared for. We do not want our students in school if their children would be neglected. Do they have husbands? What kind of support do they have from them, their family members, and their communities?
My conclusion after listening to a dozen or so applicants is that this is a group of extraordinary women who have risen above their culture’s expectations. They are the ones with the dreams and the determination to make a difference. Perhaps they will prevail whether we are there to help them or not. I choose to help and encourage them.
Rita Thomas, Board Member ~ April 6, 2017
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