During this time of crisis, the community has looked to, and continues to depend on, the frontline heroes. The setting of their work may differ from person to person—they may work in hospitals, directly in the community, or in places with vulnerable populations—but they all have a passion and drive to help their neighbors, even as it presents a risk to their own well-being.
Dozens of DSHA alumnae are these heroes. They all embody what it means to be a Dasher — a confident, capable woman making an actual, tangible difference in the world for good.
They are believers. They draw on their faith that was strengthened at DSHA, and lean on this faith during this difficult time.
They are self-advocates. They assess their strength and abilities, and do their part to help whenever and however they know they are capable. With courage, they fight for what is right—for their patients and themselves —evenin the midst of risk and unknowns.
They are critical thinkers. Even though their job responsibilities and roles have evolved, they adapt quickly and intelligently, making choices of life and death each day.
They are communicators. They hear from those who are struggling; they respond and they share in those struggles. They communicate using both strategy and empathy, grace, and truth.
They are leaders. In constant collaboration with others, they proactively fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the effect it has on all members of the community.
While the DSHA Qualities of a Graduate were established in these frontlines alumnae during their time at DSHA or its founding schools, we are learning from them each and every day, even as they continue to discover new information themselves. They show us what it means to carry oneself with confidence, to selflessly help others, and to trust in our values and beliefs—even and especially when times are tough. We are proud to call these alumnae a part of our community.
Fred Rogers is famously quoted for saying, “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
These alumnae are quick to point to others who are helping, the people they find in their line of work that inspire them. But they deserve the recognition as well.
They are the helpers. And for that, we are immensely grateful.
When the medical surgical unit at Aurora Sinai Hospital in Milwaukee became the floor for those being admitted to the hospital and being tested for COVID-19, Anna Nicole Stein, DSHA ’12, was asked if she wanted to switch units to prevent exposure.
She refused to do so.
Stein watched as the unit she once knew, usually bustling with people, become a floor of isolation carts. She became a nurse who wore full on personal protective equipment (PPE), trying to connect with other departments across the hospital remotely. She became the person meeting patient and family needs while limiting her time being physically present with her own loved ones and patients to prevent transmission of the virus.
“Although the hustle and bustle of my previous norm may have been stressful at times, nothing compares to the unknown of caring for patients with a virus we know so little about and the fear of transmitting it to others,” Stein said.
However, she’s thankful she’s able to work in medicine during this time.
“I really value being able to see the realistic impact of the disease in our community,” Stein said. “And I love to see the ability our healthcare system has to rise above the virus as I see patients heal and recover.”
It’s no doubt that Stein works intimately with others, and she credits her decision to do so to DSHA. DSHA instilled in her a passion for serving others, specifically those in her community, she said.
“What I think is most important during this time of crisis has been my faith, which DSHA helped me to explore and solidify,” she said. “My faith assures me that I can persevere through any difficult circumstance and that there will always be light after darkness.”
This light will be a slow return to a sense of normalcy. Stein said she will never take the “normal” days for granted again, nor will she look at an N95 mask in the same way.
When she returns to normalcy, so will the rest of the world. No longer will family members of ill patients struggle to stay away; no longer will hearts cover windows of homes to show appreciation and love because we can’t express it in person; and no longer will we have to stay at home to protect those most vulnerable.
But until then, said Stein, “our unity is essential.”