Whether it’s taking a class, helping the disadvantaged or planning her future, Kiera Connelly likes to dive in deep. Before she started school at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, she worked with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless on the COVID Response Medical team. Once she started classes at the university, she co-founded the interest group CU Street Medicine so that other students could experience helping people without medical care and housing.
She also jumped feet first into the University of Colorado College of Nursing’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (UCAN) program to earn her degree. While others study for years, Connelly tackled her bachelor’s in one year.
When Connelly graduates this December, she plans to plunge right back into her passion for caring for vulnerable and marginalized populations. She hopes to work for Denver Health hospital which focuses on improving healthcare equity and access for people historically excluded. As a licensed nurse, she’ll also volunteer with the Yahweh Health Clinic to provide medical services for the indigent. It’s what she wants to do for the rest of her life.
“It’s amazing to have exposure to people with so many backgrounds. There are people from the LGBTQ community who’ve experienced discrimination and hardships because of their sexual orientation. We see immigrants and refugees who face discrimination from their home countries and because of their documentation status. We see folks from rural backgrounds who came to the city to find work and found hardships in the making the transition. We see a lot of domestic violence survivors and previously incarcerated people. It’s truly the most vulnerable populations in our community,” said Connelly.
Connelly’s grateful because she grew up in a stable home with plenty of food and safe place to live.
“I want to use my privilege to make an impact and help improve the system to work towards preventing homelessness in the first place and making healthcare more accessible and realistic for people's current living situations. Instead of just treating someone for a condition like a doctor might, as a nurse, we can provide education for people and give them the tools to help care for themselves down the road.”