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A Passion for Volleyball and Nursing Sends Phillis Mutembete  to William Jewell College


If you could continue to enjoy one of your passions which for Phillis Mutembete is playing Volleyball all the while pursuing a degree in Nursing, wouldn't you do so? That's what Phillis is doing at William Jewel College in Liberty, Missouri. “First, I did not go to William Jewel.I went to Missouri State University West Plains and I stayed there for one year. What I had learned that in that university I was not going to be able to play and at the same time get my Nursing degree and I chose to do Nursing because when I was back home my dad died when I was ten years old and the way he was treated when he was at the hospital, the nurses were not friendly at all so when he died I decided I wanted to be a Nurse so that I could change the way Nurses do their things back home,” she says.

“So I decided to look for schools around that would let me play and at the same time get my Nursing degree and William Jewell was willing to do that, so that is why I decided to transfer to William Jewell.”

Playing volleyball has always been a vehicle for Phillis even while attending school back home in Kenya. Because of her athletic skills she was able to receive a volleyball scholarship as well as a partial academic scholarship from William Jewel College. “I started playing volleyball in Kenya right before going to high school because in Kenya we do pay a lot of money to go to high school and as I said earlier, my dad died when I was ten and my mom could not raise money to take me to school so I learned how to play volleyball and I got a volleyball scholarship to go to high school,” she says.

“So I was on a full volleyball scholarship in high school which was about three hundred dollars a year, that is American money, but that is about maybe thirty thousand Kenya shillings. So I played volleyball for four years there while getting the scholarship, then after my high school I decided to come over here after the coach offered a scholarship to come here and play volleyball,” she says. “So now I am on a volleyball scholarship and an academic scholarship too.”

This is Phillis senior and final year at William Jewel College.She says being able to get one on one help from professors when needed, being on a small campus as well as being able to notice her own personal growth is an invaluable experience for her. “I’ve had a really good experience here. The faculty and staff know me personally and I have been able to ask questions, I’ve been able to get help from different people and people have been very, very friendly,” she says.

“The classes are small too so the instructors get to know you and if you need any help, I’ve been going to them anytime so I’ve been having a really good experience and I feel like I have grown a lot,” she says.

“The way I see people I’ve come to realize that all human beings are the same, but back home I use to think that some people are very important, some people needed more respect than others, but after being here for some time I’ve been able to respect everybody and treat everybody the same way.

Phillis says two cultural differences plays a part in her experience at William Jewel and will continue to play a part once she returns back to Kenya. “The way instructors and students interact here is very different. Instructors are very friendly and interacting at the same level, but back home in Kenya when I was growing up and even going to high school, I never looked at my instructor, like looked at them in their eyes because that is seen as being disrespectful and here I believe when you are talking to someone to show respect you need to look at them in their eyes straight,” she says. “So that has been a really big thing for me and I am trying to adjust to that.”

“In Nursing when you go to the hospital, Nurses are very, very respectful and they will treat you very well they will take care of you, but back home Nurses are seen as one of the mean people. They will be cussing at you and doing all that and when I went back two months ago I visited some hospitals and still it is the same thing. Nurses don’t treat patients as people there,” she says.

“So when I come back here and I am doing my clinical, going to the hospital it is so different the way I’ve been treating my patients here is very different compared to what I saw Nurses doing to their patients in Kenya.

Next month, Phillis receives her bachelor's degree in Nursing and after that... ”I’m planning on going back home. I feel that I have enough knowledge that I can change a lot of things.So I am planning after getting my masters I ‘m planning on staying here for about two years to get experience and then I will be going back home.”

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