Spring 2021 Newsletter

Kayla Christine Salle de Leon Receives Rosemary Ford Future of Oncology Nursing Scholarship

Headshot of Kayla Christina De Leon

Kayla Christine Salle de Leon, a junior in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Seattle U and a strong advocate for the health care needs of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), was among the 2021 awardees of the Rosemary Ford Future of Oncology Nursing Scholarship awarded by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).

De Leon learned about the scholarship through her experiences as part of her Population Health Internship where she said she and five other Seattle U nursing students were placed at SCCA working “under the leadership of the nursing team and Dr. Kathleen Shannon Dorcy…on a qualitative research study focusing on BIPOC experiences with health care.”

An active participant in numerous campus activities, de Leon said she is involved in College of Nursing’s Equity and Justice Committee, Pinky Swear, SU Women’s Lacrosse, intramural volleyball, and United Filipino Club where she loves participating in cultural clubs’ annual showcases. She is also active in the community, “volunteering to help young folks, particularly BIPOC students in Seattle and Kent,” she said. “I have also been involved in the Filipino Community Health Board. I love to learn and grow in any area that I can—whether it be nursing related, picking up hobbies in art, exploring nature, learning about different cultures and listening to other people’s stories passing by, or working different jobs that are not health care related.”

In addition to her many campus and volunteer interests, de Leon said she keeps busy working several Nurse Tech positions, cleaning at The Center for Birth, on-campus positions with Seattle U Housing and Residence Life as well as cashiering at IKEA. “So far in this pandemic, I have worked in three different COVID vaccine clinics with different organizations, including Virginia Mason, Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance,” she added.

De Leon took some time away from her very active life to tell us more about how she became interested in nursing as a career and why she chose to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Seattle U.

“I was drawn to the nursing field by my mother, who studied nursing in the Philippines, but immigrated to Hawaii before she could complete her education. My interest in nursing increased after I had the opportunity to attend MultiCare Nurse Camp in high school at Tacoma General Hospital, and through that join the Medical Explorers in Tacoma. There I learned about holistic care and began to cultivate my beliefs about nursing that aligned with Seattle U’s vision. What drew me most to Seattle U was that focus on caring for and fostering the whole person, enriching students’ lives through leaning into their values, visions, and passions. Seattle U believes that the more a person explores and is filled by the world, the more they can bring to each aspect of their life. Nurses are people, and it is our humanity that enables us to create connections and truly care for others. I wanted a program and a space that would encourage me to not only be a nurse, but to be a person first.”

After she graduates in 2022, de Leon hopes to begin a residency at SCCA and work as an oncology nurse before continuing her education. She credits Dr. Hyun Jung Kim, one of her clinical instructors, for encouraging her to pursue an MSN in nursing education in the future. “When I was a high schooler, I never thought I would be able to go to college,” she said. “When Dr. Kim encouraged me to pursue this, I was hesitant, but her belief in me makes me feel that I can achieve this…ultimately, I hope to become a preceptor and have an opportunity to work with the wonderful nurses that educated me and with future generations of nurses!”

De Leon when on to say that through a career focused on nursing education she hopes to “help implement more change in how we can provide culturally sensitive care and challenge the medical racism that is deeply rooted in health care culture, so that we can meet the needs and wants, and amplify the voice and strengths of BIPOC folks in our community. I also hope to work with organizations who do outreach to high school students and children, so that I can help foster interest in the health care field and help develop folks’ skills in personal/familial health advocacy.”

A partnership formed in 2016 between the Seattle Cancer Care alliance (SCCA) and GlassyBaby led to the creation of the Rosemary Ford Future of Oncology Nursing Scholarship. The scholarship supports oncology nursing students at local colleges and universities, as well as SCCA nurses enrolled in advanced nursing programs.