Fierce

She Was Barely Coming Down From The Excitement Of Getting Into Her Top Choice In University When She Discovered She Was Pregnant

Natalie Ruiz has crossed the stage at the University of California, Berkeley but her story is not the typical college time story. The 25-year-old Latina discovered that she was pregnant just three weeks into her first semester in college and, for a moment, she thought her dreams of graduating college were dashed. Ruiz talked to mitú about how she pushed forward with her dreams with the help of the unexpected village of people that came together to help her graduate from UC Berkeley with a 3.97 GPA.

For Natalie Ruiz, the dream of finally being accepted to UC Berkeley was almost derailed by an unplanned pregnancy.

CREDIT: Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“My absolute first thought was that my father was going to be furious, that I’d not just let him down but brought shame to him and my family,” Ruiz admitted to mitú. “I was coming down from the excitement of even getting into Berkeley, which was my number one choice that had rejected me as a freshman and accepted me as a transfer. I felt like I had finally achieved something really great by being accepted to UC Berkeley and then all of a sudden I had tarnished it.”

But, on her own accord, Ruiz decided to push forward and make sure she would one day walk across that stage to her family and friends cheering her on.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

Ruiz told mitú that she put her energy into an unhealthy form of motivation by telling herself that she had no more room for failure. She tried her best to just immerse herself in her classes so that she could honor the sacrifices of her farm working abuelito. Then Ruiz began to use her real-life experience to find what interested her in her studies. As a young mother who would go to the stores late at night to use WIC stamps so no one would see, Ruiz began to study more sociology to help her make sense of her situation.

But just six weeks after having her baby, Ruiz became really ill and discovered that she has a serious case of pancreatitis that had gone undetected during her pregnancy. This left her in the hospital for a month and recovering from surgery for six months.

CREDIT: Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“In the time after I had my daughter, I went into the emergency room for a fifth time after many incidents of pain that were unexplained,” Ruiz told mitú about her post-pregnancy health scare that left her in the hospital for six months. “I was diagnosed with having severe necrotizing pancreatitis and what that meant was that the pancreatitis was getting so bad that it was essentially dying and infecting and cutting off the function of my organs, specifically my pancreas as well as my gallbladder and my spleen.”

During her six-month recovery, Ruiz told mitú that a village of people suddenly came together to help her take care of her baby.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

Ruiz says that over the six months in the hospital there were groups of people helping her make it through. She was in constant contact with her professors as she insisted in staying enrolled because she needed the financial aid to pay rent, which you can still do even if you are in the hospital. But what really touched her was the organizing that her friends and family executed to make sure that her child was taken care of. Calendars were marked to keep at least one person with Ruiz and another with her baby at all times. There were also women who donated their own breast milk so that her then-6-week-old baby was able to continue feeding on breast milk the entire six months she was in the hospital. Ruiz recognizes that if any part of the support that grew around her was not there, their spontaneous health care center would have fallen apart.

But the person she thanks the most is her partner and father of her child.

CREDIT: Natalie Ruiz / Facebook

“I have so much respect for the many of my friends who are single mothers, who are parents on their own, because I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my partner,” Ruiz told mitú. “I mean that in terms of helping me balance school with parenting, helping me to maintain my mental health during the stress. The emotional support.”

Ruiz says that she was lucky to be a student at UC Berkeley during her pregnancy and young motherhood.

CREDIT: Matt Ha

“I am extremely fortunate to have been at UC Berkeley, where the resources available for students with children are far more generous than other universities. These resources include a student-parent grant which was added to my financial aid package,” Ruiz told mitú. “I was the recipient of a few other truly great scholarships including the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award, as well as the New Leaders Scholarship. Between these supports, as well as family support, I feel extremely privileged to have been able to finance my educational dreams.”

Now that she is a brand new college graduate, Ruiz is looking for work that will make it possible for her to help other people who are going through what she went through.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Natalie Ruiz

The 25-year-old graduate would like to work in social policy research. Specifically, she wants to “advocate on behalf of poor families in California” in order to better inform lawmakers about the social impact their legislation has on poor families.

“If [education] is your dream, do not give up,” Ruiz tells young mothers about juggling a baby and school.

CREDIT: UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

But Ruiz does make a point to say that if you are a young mother or pregnant in college, you might have to advocate for yourself until things change. Ruiz credits her university’s procedures and resources to young mothers before her who advocated for the kind of services from which she benefited. If it wasn’t for the student parents before her, Ruiz acknowledges that her own journey navigating motherhood and college would have been much tougher. Above all else, Ruiz says you cannot and should not apologize for being pregnant or a parent. She argues that by apologizing you are making harder for universities to create the necessary spaces to help future student parents.

Congratulations, Natalie!

CREDIT: Matt Ha

May you have all the future successes you have dreamed of.


READ: This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

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These Gift For Mom Are The Perfect Way To Say You Love Her

Culture

These Gift For Mom Are The Perfect Way To Say You Love Her

mitú shop

Mom always says the same thing every year, “Don’t get me anything.” However, we also know that it is best to go ahead and get her something. First of all, it shows her that you love her so much. Second, if you have siblings, it makes you better than the rest.

Madre Orgullosa Mug | $14.99

Credit: mitú shop

The perfect gift for the loving and proud moms of LGBTQ+ children. Or get two for your moms and they can proudly sip their morning cafecito before getting to work. Que cute.

Nadie Me Ayuda En Esta Casa T-Shirt | $24.99

Credit: mitú shop

A classic. We have seen this shirt and we love this shirt. We have also heard our mother scream this on Saturday mornings to wake you up and get you to clean. Trust us. Your mom is going to love this shirt. Buy it and find out.

Very Important Mujer T-Shirt | $24.99

Credit: mitú shop

We love our moms and understand that this world would not work without her. Dad never knows where it is. You can never make your beans like hers. No one will ever fight to defend you like her. So, let her know how important she is by giving her this shirt as recognition of everything she does.

La Jefa Mug | $14.99

Credit: mitú shop

Like, what else do you need explained here. Mom is la jefa of the house. Anything she says goes and it is impossible to have it any other way. She is the one who makes the rules, enforces the rules, and keeps everyone on notice. Isn’t it great?

Best Amá Ever Mug | $14.99

Credit: mitú shop

Simple and powerful. Mom is everything. She gave you life, maintained your life, and is always there with advice when you are dealing with a serious issue.

Quiero Nietos | $24.99

Credit: mitú shop

Okay. This one is a little too much for some. However, imagine your mother’s joy when she unwraps this shirt for Christmas. Maybe this is how you tell her you are pregnant. Or you just give it to her to let her know that it is in your overall plan.

Pregúntale A Tu Papá T-Shirt | $24.99

Credit: mitú shop

Here’s the thing. Moms are the only ones who could find anything in the house. However, there are things that you need to ask your father for. Even in those moments, we go to our mothers and even they need a break from all of the family bothering them.

READ: This Mexican Mom Has Gone Viral On TikTok For Her Recipe Videos Showing You How Easy It Is To Be A Cook

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The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

Things That Matter

The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

Credit: Getty Images

In this unprecedented year that has pushed the boundaries of the healthcare industry past its breaking point, a new kind of medical school is making history. A medical school that caters to Indigenous American medical students.

The school is called Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation (COMCN), and it will be the first tribally-associated medical school in the U.S.

Largely the brainchild of former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, the project aims to combine the practices of traditional healing practice of the Cherokee people with Western medical teachings.

Bill John Baker’s original goal was to invest money into the Cherokee Nation medical system. His fundraising efforts drew the attention of Oklahoma State University, who approached the then-principal Chief with the idea of opening up a medical school on reservation lands. To him, the decision was a no-brainer.

“After we were removed from tribal lands and there were no teachers, we invested our treasury into teachers. This is a natural progression. Just as our ancestors grew their own teachers 150 years ago, we want to grow our own doctors,” Bill John Baker told Medscape.

As recent reports have detailed, Indigenous communities are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CDC, Indigenous Americans are testing positive for COVID-19 at 3.5 times the rate of white Americans. This is largely due to lingering historical inequities and structural failings that negatively impact the overall health of Indigenous Americans.

One of the solutions to this institutional failing is to recruit and train more doctors of color–in this case, more Indigenous American doctors. As of now, 0.4% of doctors in the U.S. identify themselves as being American Indian or Alaska Native.

Since COMCN is a state school, non-Indigenous students are welcome to study at the school as well. According to the university’s states, 22% of its students identify as Native American, while they make up less than 1% of the U.S. population.

The devastation that COVID-19 has wrought globally has spurred an uptick in medical school applications.

In what has been dubbed the “Fauci Effect”, the number of potential students applying to medical school is up 18% this year from last year. It seems that this global health crisis has sparked a desire in certain people dedicate their lives to medicine.

So COMCN couldn’t come at a better time. America needs more Indigenous doctors and COMCN is here to teach them.

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