The Heart of Hamida

Katrina Steinsultz
Associate Professor

My initial impression of Hamida at orientation was not favorable.  Hamida did not project confidence, and she was terrified of offending me or of making mistakes.  My hospital, where I was a supervisor in the Diagnostic Imaging department, looked upon humility as a weakness.  I feared for her ability to survive and navigate the brutal and high-stress environment.  But as I observed her that day, I noticed tiny clues that indicated there was more to Hamida behind a hasty judgement: an accent that indicated foreign birth, a calmness that comes from those who have seen much and spoken little, and a hajib that challenged diversity.

Over time, Hamida revealed herself as a strong woman of fierce determination.  She graduated with honors, but did not pass the ARRT registry.  She called me for help.  I could hear the disappointment and emotional struggle in her voice, including the swallowed lump of pride.  Determined, we started reviewing everything.  Along the way, our preceptor-student relationship evolved into a friendship.   I learned that Hamida was a refugee, surviving a genocide in Rwanda.  Her father and twin brothers were killed in the room next to her as she escaped her house.  Later, she fled an abusive husband, traveling to France and ultimately to the United States with her two young daughters.  She has lived here for years, adapting to a new country while providing for a stable home and education for her daughters.  After ten weeks of intensive study and conversation, Hamida passed the registry.  A few weeks later, she was hired full-time at a medical clinic which provided a substantial boost in income.  My inner advocate cheered with fulfillment.  I had helped someone get to a better place.

My blood runs with the need to help others, which is why I entered the medical field.  In the last several years, that need has gone unfulfilled.  When Hamida shared her unshakable faith in the graciousness of God and in the kindness of people, she showed me a new way to help people—through education.  When a job opportunity arose to work and teach at LCC, I applied and was hired.  I have obtained a new sense of purpose, and revolutionary life change.  I am happier and healthier than I have been in years.  Hamida taught me that I can complete my life mission to help others.  Hamida, the humble student, became my extraordinary teacher.