Nursing is an 'art form' for Round Lake caregiver selected as emerging leader

From a young age, Rocio Sanchez was inspired by the care nurses provided her mother when she was pregnant with one of her siblings, and later when a mass was found in one of her mother's kidneys.

Sanchez was impressed with the patience and empathy shown by one such nurse who tended to her mother.

"The impact that a nurse has on people when they are in their most vulnerable state, it was what really catapulted me to want to pursue this profession," said Sanchez, 33, of Round Lake.

The Round Lake Area High School graduate was named Advocate Condell Medical Center's 2021 Nurse of the Year in April. She also has been selected among the 40 Under 40 Emerging Nurse Leaders in Illinois by the Illinois Nurses Foundation, and was recognized with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses 40 Under 40 Award in July.

"There are just so many opportunities and avenues you can take the profession," Sanchez said. "Appreciating nursing as an art form, it goes beyond the scientific practice of it. There is empathy, care and compassion in the work that we provide."

Sanchez is a first-generation Mexican American immigrant who was the first in her family to graduate from college. She has been working at Condell for six years and chairs the Libertyville hospital's Shared Governance Council and Professional Development Committee. She also serves as treasurer-elect of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses Illinois chapter board.

Sanchez said she hopes to increase awareness about the association's work providing scholarships and mentorship to underrepresented minority students entering the profession and be a "nurse role model."

According to a 2017 survey by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, nurses from minority backgrounds represent only 19.2% of the workforce, with Hispanic nurses making up 5%.

"If you don't see people that look like you in a role it's hard to picture yourself there," Sanchez said. "That's why my work with the association is so important."

Asian American history

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago will be providing free professional development workshops this summer for teachers on the TEAACH Act.

Illinois adopted the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act last July, becoming the first state in the nation to require Asian American history to be taught in public schools. The law, which aims for more representation and inclusion in the classroom, takes effect in elementary and high schools statewide this school year.

The landmark legislation was introduced before the COVID-19 pandemic and stalled amid a surge in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as the virus raged on.

"We are trying to grow attendance and awareness with educators and teachers with the school year starting," said Kevin Hsia, communications specialist for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, which spearheaded the legislation. "We are trying to expand more into the suburbs and reach more people."

The group offers a variety of lesson plans and curriculum resources for K-12 teachers. Its virtual two-hour training sessions will run starting this month through December.

"We have some great instructors teaching it," Hsia said.

He added that the goal is for people to "walk away with an understanding of the Asian American experience," combating racial stereotypes throughout history and "challenging preconceived ideologies of Asian American history and filling those gaps in the curriculum."

To register for upcoming training sessions, visit

Back-to-school drives

Aurora Alderman-at-Large Sherman Jenkins and the African American Men of Unity group will host the 14th annual Back-to-School Giveaway of school supplies from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday at Greene Field Park, 774 Illinois Ave.

Families can drive through to pick up supplies. Children must be present for the giveaway.

Also, from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, several local churches and organizations will host their 35th annual Back-to-School Bash to hand out school supplies and provide free haircuts and braiding. The event, which includes food, children's activities and music, will be held at Dr. Martin Luther King Park, 42 N. Farnsworth Ave.

Indian Independence Day

The city of Aurora will mark the 75th anniversary of the independence of India with a flag-raising ceremony at 11 a.m. today at One Aurora Plaza, 8 E. Galena Blvd.

Special guests include representatives from the Office of the Consul General of India in Chicago, Aurora's Indian American Community Outreach Advisory Board, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, Ward 10 Alderwoman Shweta Baid (who is the city's first Indian American elected official), leaders from the Sri Venkateswara Swami (Balaji) Temple in Aurora, Khavita Athanikar (who is the first Indian American judge in DuPage County), and local business owners and organizations. Indian American youth leaders also will be recognized for their achievements.

Aurora's Indian American and South Asian community is the city's fastest-growing ethnic population group.

The city this year has held flag-raising ceremonies for Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Pride Month and Juneteenth.

Science gold medalist

Greycen Ren, a student at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, recently earned a gold medal at the 2022 USA Biolympiad National Finals at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

He was one of four gold medalists selected as "future leaders in bio-based careers" by the Center for Excellence in Education.

Ren was among nearly 11,000 students from 582 high schools in 42 states and 16 international schools registered in the nationwide competition.

During the 10-day national finals in late spring, students participated in intensive theoretical and practical tutorials.

The students studied with leading U.S. biologists who are experts in the fields of cellular and molecular biology, plant anatomy and physiology, animal anatomy and physiology, genetics and evolution, ecology, ethology, and biosystematics.

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"The impact that a nurse has on people when they are in their most vulnerable state, it was what really catapulted me to want to pursue this profession," said Rocio Sanchez of Round Lake, who recently was recognized with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses 40 Under 40 Award. Courtesy of Advocate Condell Medical Center
Chicago's Chinatown marks Lunar New Year with a parade. The iconic Asian American hub dates back to 1912. This fall, Illinois public schools will begin teaching Asian American history and contributions Daily Herald File Photo, 2017
Greycen Ren
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