Meet Gaby Smiley a current 3rd year optometry student from UAB. As the only Hispanic student in her class and in honor of Hispanic awareness month, we decided to ask a couple of questions:
- Q: Where are from?
- A: I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA but my mom was born in Miami and raised in Puerto Rico and my grandmother is from Cuba.
- Q: How would you describe your upbringing in a Spanish speaking household?
- A: I would describe it as a true blessing. My grandmother, who only speaks Spanish, lived with us and helped raise me so I learned Spanish at a very young age. As I have gotten older I have realized that several Hispanic families become comfortable with the English language and don’t carry on the Spanish language so I am really glad I learned the language at such a young age.
- Q: What is your favorite thing/aspect about Hispanic culture?
- A: My favorite thing about the Hispanic culture is the unique and delicious food! Some of my favorite entrees include Ropa Vieja, Mofongo, empanadas, and sweet plantains.
- Q: How has your Hispanic background influenced/affected your experience in optometry school compared to those around you?
- A: My Hispanic background has affected my experience in Optometry school tremendously. At UAB Eye Care we have a large Hispanic patient base that I am always trying to interact and engage with. I feel a subtle sense of purpose when I see a Hispanic pts face light up when they hear a Spanish speaker helping them to communicate in English.
- Q: What is your best piece of advice for young Hispanic women and men trying to pursue a career in optometry or in a healthcare career in general?
- A: I would say to never lose your ability to communicate with Spanish speakers. A small gesture like helping to translate goes a long way. Even if your Spanish isn’t perfect, Hispanic pts greatly appreciate your help when they feel like they can’t accurately express what they mean due to a language barrier.
We are so
thankful for the opportunity to learn and celebrate Gaby’s culture and for her
ability to help us break the barrier between the Hispanic population in the
Sincerely, NOSA National E-Board