Jose Madrid loves to help people. An active participant in the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at his high school in Aloha, Oregon, Jose was always looking to “improve the environment for queer students,” so that he could leave a legacy of openness and respect for future LGBTQ youth.
This desire to help others has been with Jose since elementary school, but began to solidify as a passion after his health took a turn for the worse. When Jose was in eighth grade, he developed cardiac dysrhythmia—a condition that causes irregular heartbeats.
As a result, Jose had two heart surgeries. It was a stressful time for Jose, his family, and friends, resulting in a lot of worry and anxiety for everyone around him. However, instead of breaking down, Jose decided it was most important to remain positive and reassure his loved ones that he would be alright.
When he saw the effect his words had on his friends and family, he realized that what he did for his loved ones during those two years was exactly the type of altruism that nurses exhibit daily, only on a much greater scale.
“My outlook on life was highly influenced by the surgeries. I became more optimistic afterwards and looked forward to each and every day, no matter how difficult,” Jose reflects.
His dream of studying nursing only grew when he started to share his passion with his friends. He was told about a woman working with Doctors Without Borders who traveled to China to help those with poor vision. Jose was immediately inspired by her story—solidifying that he wanted to use his medical skills around the world, as well as in the United States.
Jose’s engagement in the LGBTQ community and interest in the medical field has allowed him to understand the connection between healthcare and marginalized sexualities and/or genders. “As a nurse I plan to support and meet the healthcare needs of queer patients,” Jose said. He acknowledges that as the queer population continues to grow, we will need more medical providers that have a background in culturally competent care for the LGBTQ community, and in particular the healthcare needs of transgender people.
Wherever he goes, whether it is a hospital or a classroom, Jose is always trying to make things better for people. He is currently a leader in the LGBTQ community through his work with Queer Intersections Portland. In his words, “I am working with them for the betterment of queer youth with intersecting marginalized identities. This refers to queer youth such as myself, as I am Mexican, an immigrant, queer, and genderqueer.”
In addition to the important work Jose is doing with Queer Intersections Portland, he also attended The Oregon Queer Youth Summit this past month, where he facilitated a workshop entitled “Scholarships for LGBTQ Youth with Intersecting Marginalized Identities.” As a Pride Foundation Scholar, Jose designed this workshop specifically to teach students about various scholarship opportunities that are available to them so they can continue their education.
Jose will be attending Portland State University in the fall, and is excited to be living in a city where he will have many opportunities to succeed. “I like the idea of independence, and living in Portland would make my life easier as most of the nonprofit work I do is in Portland. Above all though, I am looking forward to all the types of communities I will be able to join.”
We are excited to support Jose with a scholarship so he can continue to work towards the betterment of our community and inspire others to do the same. “Receiving this scholarship means so much to me. I have no words to express the gratitude but I know that this scholarship means that someone in my family will finally be able to attend college right after high school without delay. I am thankful that I will be able to continue my education.”
We look forward to seeing where his compassion and work ethic will take him in the future, and wish Jose the best of luck as he begins this new journey.
Kira Deshler is Pride Foundation’s Communications Intern.