Introducing Jubilee Beladi-Vazquez: TAP Grant Recipient

Hi! For those of you reading I’m Jubilee, and I plan on using the TAP grant to visit my mother’s native home of Puerto Rico and volunteering as a Nurse. During this gap period, I will also be going on a government sponsored trip to South Korea to learn about the region’s history and talks of peace in the future, then traveling through Japan where a cousin of mine lives.

Upon returning to the U.S I will be going on a road trip to visit many of our nation’s national parks. Lastly, I will be going to my father’s native land of Iran! Before I get more into future, here’s a bit about my past to better understand why this opportunity means so much. Here’s 21 years of life into a moderately lengthened blog post.

For me, a love for traveling feels like part of my genetic make-up, something I’ve had since birth. In 1996 my Puerto Rican mother went to Iran for the first time while pregnant with me to accompany her two young sons and husband to his native country. Some might consider this period of fetal development my first exposure to international travel.

My parent’s homelands were the first places I traveled to growing up. Although I haven’t been to either in the last ten years, I have nothing but the best memories. It may seem that you couldn’t find two cultures more different from one another, yet I find so many commonalities between the two. Both places are filled with the extremely hospitable people, flavorful foods, enchanting music, scenic natural lands, ancient histories, and beautiful languages. The desire to reconnect with my cultural roots was the driving force behind applying for the TAP gap year grant.

My parents raised me in Skokie IL, a Chicago suburb. I loved growing up there because of its unique cultural and socioeconomic diversity and proximity to the city. In response to recent hostilities against immigrant nationwide, my hometown started a campaign titled “Skokie Cares” to promote equity and diversity. I am so proud to be part a community that appreciates all people and cultures, and I believe this part of my past has helped shaped desire to be part of a more connected world.

From a young age, I was taught to enjoy experiences over possessions. Instead of unwrapping physical presents I went on trips, played soccer competitively, attended summer camp, had flute lessons, and raised a puppy and two lizards. This has influenced my life today as I am an extremely active person, and plan on continuing so throughout my gap experience.

Whenever I have some free time you find me spending time with loved ones, rollerblading and biking, attending concerts/ music festivals, cooking/ eating plant based food, practicing yoga asnas and meditation, hoola hooping, hiking, playing soccer, going out dancing, being a beach bum, drinking tea, and much more.

In may I graduated from Saint Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. For me nursing is not just a job, but a profession that will allow me to have a positive impact on the world. I hope to become a public health nurse to work with individuals and communities in order to prevent disease and maintain health. Last summer I got to do this as an intern for the U.S Public Health Service. I was stationed in Arizona where I worked with a Diabetes Educator for the Indian Health Service.

Seeing how invested my colleagues were in their patients was inspiring, and I was also able to learn from the patients. Our nation’s health is not where it ought to be and I hope to help fix this problem, whether it be on a small or big scale.

The driving factor the led to my enrollment at SLU was their satellite campus in Madrid, Spain. In high school, I did an exchange for two weeks in Spain. This experience was different than any other trip I had gone on, as I went to a brand-new place but felt as though I learned so much in a short period by living with locals.

I will forever feel blessed for having that high school exchange experience, but also getting to study abroad in Madrid for a school year then completing a summer internship a hospital there. I broadened my world view immensely by listening to the perspectives of people from other countries, which I found extremely enlightening in the health care context. It’s amazing how similar yet different people’s lives can be. I have noticed my own lifestyle, perspectives on world history, approach to work/recreation, food preferences, and many other things change because of cultural immersion.

Something I love about my alma matter, is its dedication to service. SLU’s mission statement focuses on building men and women for others, and that are dedicated to a greater good. During my time at SLU I was encouraged to participate in service with various organizations in St. Louis, many involving health care. These types of experiences serve as a great compliment to the education I received in the class room, abroad, and during my internships.

My family background, childhood, culturally immersive/ travel experiences, and nursing education have helped shaped my main objectives for this gap experience. I started off with idea of going to Puerto Rico. I want to get to know the island better in hopes of better connecting with my family and self.

While I’m there I hope to use my skills in a way to help others. I’m currently in the process of setting up a volunteer position as a nurse at a free clinic the provides care to those who normally lack access, as well as help with clean up in areas affected by the hurricane. More details to come in future posts! After that I hope to travel to many different parts of the island to do things such as visit family, hike through the rain forest and surf in the ocean!

Nothing brings me more joy then to think about these future endeavors, but before any of that can happen I must study for my nursing boards! I look forward to writing more after I have passed.

With love,

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