Written By Leah T. Johnson/ColorBlind Magazine
That word means a lot to Haitian-born, Tampa, Fl resident, Manouchar “Missy” Pierre-Val. Although there aren’t many who look like her in her profession as a Nurse Practitioner, she isn’t deterred.
Pierre-Val knew she wanted to become a nurse after being in a nursing program offered at her high school, and also from shadowing those already in the profession. The field of nursing is also revered in her traditional Haitian culture. Still, she sees very few women of color when she goes to work.
“There’s definitely a gap, and it bothers me. I’d definitely like to see more women of color represented,” she said during a phone interview from her office in Tampa.
To succeed as a young professional, Pierre-Val did what most people do while in college; she embraced her super powers to do a lot simultaneously. She worked midnights as a nurse while in grad school, and worked as a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The hospital I worked at was across the street from the cheering practice area. So, I would work, practice, do school, go home, and try to get some sleep. I don’t know how I did it all,” she said with a small laugh of relief.
Cheering itself was very non-traditional based on her culture. However, Pierre-Val’s bold personality made her want to be 1 of thirty-four women, and 1 of 3 women of color, who rallied the crowd in support of the Bucs at NFL games.
“Even the dress in Haitian culture is traditional, so to wear a cheer uniform was different. But I wanted to try something different.”
Pierre-Val fondly recalls her pom-pom days and still keeps in touch with some of her former teammates. It’s possible that her grueling schedule as a cheerleader undoubtedly assisted with her busy nursing profession.
When she isn’t seeing patients, doing physicals and the like, she is heavily involved with two sites: giftfornurses.org, an online shop with apparel and accessories for nurses and those who know nurses, and fierceexpression.com. The latter website is described as a “nursing 101” site, complete with mentoring, virtual tutoring by Pierre-Val and 20+ nursing professionals, E-books, and more for anyone interested in nursing.
These initiatives are only a stepping stone for another project she is passionate about- that of bringing career awareness about nursing to high schools- just like it began for her.
“This is important so students can go to college already with an understanding of the field,” she said.
Clearly, “Missy” isn’t ashamed to don her white nurses coat. She’s earned it. She relishes in it. Her advice to others?
“Get focused on what you want. Be adamant about it, and don’t let people deter you from what you want.”