Meet First-year GSBA Scholar (and awardee of the Wozumi Family Scholarship) and nursing student, Chivon Ou
Chivon was raised in Hillsboro, OR and now lives in Vancouver, WA as a student attending the University of Portland. He is a first-generation, Khmer-American student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Nursing with a Neuroscience Minor. Inspired by the stories of his parents’ survival as refugees of the Khmer Rouge regime, Chivon aspires to become a nurse researcher to serve communities that are disproportionately affected by trauma. One of Chivon’s long-term goals is to invalidate the practice of conversion therapy with research. He also has an interest in pursuing research related to HIV using his experience as a biomedical intern. Chivon hopes that along his journey he will inspire LGBTQ youth to confidently pursue their ambitions.
Chivon, what has it been like to be a student on the frontlines of COVID-19?
To be a student nurse in the middle of such an unprecedented pandemic is truly an exciting yet concerning experience. As we learn more about COVID-19, communities on the ground serve as testament to the fact that healthcare and politics are intertwined. In my nursing classes, we discussed case studies about how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting minority communities, especially the LGBTQ and communities of color.
What are some of those challenges?
I have learned that stress as a result of forms of discrimination has been proven to increase the risk for hypertension and generalized anxiety disorder as a result of the body's overstimulated cortisol stress response. I think that this is an especially important health concern with regards to the Asian-American and immigrant communities as we have unfortunately seen a rise in xenophobia, which I can testify to as a member in Portland’s APANO. It doesn’t help that at the national level, there currently is an anti-China/immigrant/LGBTQ narrative which inevitably has been used by some to justify the scapegoating of our nation’s Asian-American, immigrant, and/or LGBTQ communities.
How do you plan to use your experiences and voice to make a difference?
I hope as a first-generation Asian-American nursing student myself, I will achieve my goal in helping to push back on this narrative by giving back to my community as a nurse. As a gay nursing student, I hope to also push back on the idea that my sexuality somehow compromises me as a nurse employee as this unfortunately happens to be a belief held by some employers. If anything, I believe that my experiences coming out as gay and studying how discrimination affects the health of minority populations will help me to become a more adept healthcare provider for the disenfranchised communities of our nation.