Nursing Student Honors Trailblazing African American Woman With Original Poem


Jasleen Sevilla

As Americans celebrate Black History Month in honor of the contributions of African Americans, a first-year nursing major paused to remember an inspirational trailblazer who had the courage to follow her dreams no matter what obstacles she faced.

Jasleen Sevilla, a 2014 graduate of North Plainfield High School, penned an original poem to pay homage to Mary Mahoney, who became the first African American woman to complete nurses training in 1879.

Sevilla was asked to write and deliver a brief presentation on past or present nursing icons as part of her “Seminar on Professional Nursing” course, taught by Wanda Williams, an assistant professor in the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. However, much to Williams’ delight, Sevilla went beyond the assignment requirements and composed an original poem to highlight Mahoney’s extraordinary life.

Here is Sevilla’s poem in its entirety:

Miss Mary Mahoney

She was born in Boston named Miss Mary,

Who despite her obstacles, overcame the quite contrary.

Being the first African American to become a trained nurse,

Her passion and work never had her driving a hearse.

Graduated from the first nursing school in the states,

Gained her an opportunity for later dates.

She worked hard and quickly became known,

Not really caring what illnesses she became prone.

Mary joined the ANA and was deemed first,

Shortly after came her historic burst.

She worked as a supervisor helping the young,

Checking heart rates and oscillating the lung.

She gave a welcoming speech for the Black Nurses in her town,

To which they appointed her an essential crown.

For being the first black ANA member and nurse alike,

For even standing up for women’s rights by going on strike.

She was also the first woman in Boston to vote,

Although she obtained fame she was never one to gloat.

After her death she got an award,

That in our minds will be forever stored.

Having gained a spot in the Nursing Hall of Fame,

Miss Mary the first black nurse; you’ll never forget her name.               – Jasleen Sevilla

Posted in: Student Achievement

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