"In high school, I was a shy, introverted person who also happened to be very involved in my school. One role I had was the manager for the senior girls’ basketball team. The coach really believed in me and gave me this position as a way to develop leadership skills and to feel competent in myself as a person. It was an opportunity for me to feel accepted, which was something I struggled with. The coach helped me start the journey of me becoming the person I am today.
"Growing up I always wanted to be a Psychologist. I went to Acadia and completed a degree in psychology and sociology. I was a Youth Worker for a bit, and then I went into retail and became a manager. In my late twenties, I realized that I wasn’t happy working for a big company – it wasn’t a fulfilling job for me. At the same time I was working in retail, I was working casually at the hospital doing registration and saw the work the nurses were doing. I thought to myself, “I could do that”. I applied for nursing school and knew I wanted to specialize in mental health, because of my general interest and educational background. I feel lucky to have figured this out, because it truly suits me.
"The youth and the staff here are amazing. I have the privilege of working with an open door policy, where anyone can come in and talk, or they can just pop their head in to give me quick, personal updates. Building therapeutic relationships with people is so rewarding because of the trust that is built. Being non-judgemental is key! I will talk, I can talk and I want to talk about anything that is affecting them.
"My life is one where I am accepted for who I am. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be someone who isn’t accepted on a daily basis for who they are. I really hope that everyone feels like they belong, and Phoenix’s participation in the Pride Parade is one of many ways we create that feeling of openness and acceptance. At Pride, you look around and see the youth feel like a part of something. We’re all in it together, at the same level. That’s something you can’t forget.
"Before working here, I really didn’t understand, to the full extent, all the barriers and challenges that youth face. I feel privileged to be in a position where I can advocate on behalf of others to change some of those things. Being in this role I can see how advocacy is just so important as a Nurse.
"I’ve always wanted to help people face or overcome obstacles and challenges in their lives, similar to what my coach did for me in high school. Phoenix has really given me the opportunity to accomplish that."
Sierra has been working as the IWK Community Mental Health Nurse with Phoenix for almost one-and-a-half years.