During last weekend's Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C., Silas Nwaishienyi ’24 delivered a speech on racial inequality and health care to thousands of attendees in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton. Nwaishienyi, one of 16 students in Regis's IFTJ delegation, discussed how Black Americans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans are among those who face worse health outcomes because of a lack of research into their care.
Nwaishienyi, who works part-time as an EMT, was compelled to speak out on the issue after completing a project in Dr. Maura Toomb-Estevez’s theology class that tasked students to research a system in America that negatively impacts people who rely on it. Nwaishienyi wrote about how historical racial inequities can affect the quality of patients' care, reflecting on how his mother was initially misdiagnosed when she developed a life-threatening heart condition while pregnant with him.
"Racial inequities in health aren’t spoken a lot about, yet their devastating impacts are clear," said Nwaishienyi in his speech. "Bringing this issue to greater stages than this will be the start of both making this issue known and curing it. That way, everyone will have a fair chance of being saved."
The IFTJ was first held in 1997 to honor six Jesuit priests who were killed by military forces in El Salvador in 1989. The event continues the work of these martyrs, educating and advocating for social justice.
"Students have actually come to me after attending IFTJ and shared ideas about service sites we should look into in the city and speakers we should bring in during third trimester," said Director of Social Justice Initiatives Owen Smith. "The students definitely see this as an opportunity to gather information, resources, and ideas and bring that back to Regis."
Attendees this year heard speeches from respected voices in the Jesuit community on environmental protection, health care access, and gun violence. On Sunday night, students and staff from Jesuit schools on the East Coast gathered for dinner to unwind and build camaraderie.