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November 2, 2022

Student Spotlight: Joanna Shamenda’23 (Nursing)

Joanna Shamenda

“[I think] diversity should be highlighted because it allows room for everyone to have a seat at the table, and not only is their voice heard, but it is valued. You’re holding the door open for those behind you, and together, you can work to tear the door down completely.”

Joanna Shamenda shares that she’s incredibly grateful for the opportunities at Roberts to further her leadership skills. Whether working in the dorms as an RA, in clinical settings as a student, or in various leadership positions in the Student Multicultural Advisory Council (SMAC)... her four years at Roberts are truly unforgettable.

Where are you from?

Born in Tennessee! I grew up as a pastor’s kid and a missionary kid, so we moved around a bit. I’ve spent most of my life in Buffalo.

What do you see yourself doing as a nurse?

I love that the world of nursing is so broad, and I have enjoyed seeing many different areas during my clinicals. I loved my Labor and Delivery rotation the most, so I’m leaning toward that area. I really gravitated toward that area.

 Joanna in nursing scrubs, with a group of fellow students

In that field, like all fields, I feel like representation is important. The importance of Diversity in healthcare is that, in scary times it comforts our patients. Even if it’s an unspoken thing I want my patients to know I see and acknowledge them.

Why do you think diversity is important?

It’s key because it’s encouraging to others. Like, hey, you can do this, too. Especially to someone like me, it's inspiring.

In one of my clinicals, I saw a Black woman as the head surgeon leading the c-section. She had this amazing leadership and control of the room. I admired that!

It inspired me so much I went up to her and said, “Seeing you in this position stands out. It means a lot to me.” She got teary-eyed and gave me strong words of encouragement to keep finishing my race. Representation matters.

It’s hard to be in a position where you feel like your voice isn’t heard… and that tells me diversity should be highlighted because it allows room for everyone to have a seat at the table, and not only is their voice heard, but it is valued. You’re holding the door open for those behind you, and together, you can work to tear the door down completely.

Seeing a woman of color in the workforce is so encouraging to me. Diversity is important because it helps us learn how to celebrate our differences.

Jessica Coleman Joanna is a shining star in and out of the classroom. She has blazed a trail for our BIPOC students to find their voices and lean into creating safe spaces where they can be their true selves on campus. -Jessica Coleman, Director of Diversity and Belonging

How has Roberts impacted your spiritual journey?

I grew up in church, and that church would frequent Monday through Friday, so it was a big part of my life. In school, I was always that one Christian friend in the group, so I wanted an intentional environment to see me grow in my faith.

It’s so cool when professors do things like praying before tests. I never had that before. I love meeting professors and hearing, “I’m praying for you. I’ve been thinking about you.’ Faculty have prayed on my classmate's and my behalf. Intentional mentors have spoken words into my life.

I’ve been challenged to be more individual in my faith, and to have my own personal time with God. Finding a Christian friend group, having Bible studies, and challenging conversations. I value those things a lot. Roberts has challenged me to reach out more and seek.

“Intentionality” is my word. I don’t want life to pass me by. An intentionality is an act, not just a saying… you have to do. That’s why it’s so important to me. I’m going out of my way to be intentional with God.

Joanna Shamenda

What’s one way you have grown through being an RA?

I was interested in being an RA before I came to college, and I love it. I’m naturally very chatty, so I enjoy talking and connecting with people.

I’ve met so many close friends through being an RA. It’s so cool seeing fellow students who I used to RA with back in the freshman dorm and seeing them now as a senior, or even being RAs and student leaders themselves

I love the intentionality that goes into this job. You have to be intentional about relationships but also be balanced. What can I say yes to, and what do I have to say no to?

Tell us about your campus involvement with SMAC!

SMAC has helped me become the leader that I am. I’m so grateful for SMAC.

I always believed I had the ability to lead, but it wasn’t until I joined SMAC that I was challenged to do so. First, I was the task manager, then the event coordinator, then finally the president… So each year, I learned more. I gained skills in public speaking, planning events, working in teams, handling conflict, and more.

Joanna volunteering at a SMAC event

I love what SMAC stands for. Breaking barriers and building bridges. We were able to create a space for students - especially BIPOC students - to have a place to gather. We talked about uncomfortable situations and things we’re wrestling with. While also having enlightening conversations around relationships, mental health, current events, and so many different things.

Creating a comfortable space where we can peacefully disagree and learn to co-exist is so important. And striving to make those uncomfortable conversations in comfortable and safe spaces.

Faculty Feedback

Linda Quinlan, a smiling midde-aged blonde woman Joanna is engaged, curious, and hard-working. She excels at digging deeper to understand concepts. She has a compassionate heart and a passion for justice and equity for all. -Linda Quinlan, Associate Professor of English
Click here to read Professor Quinlan's Faculty Spotlight!

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