JABSOM AANHPI: Maya Nishida makes moves in STEM

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For the month of May, JABSOM highlights our Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) ʻohana for AANHPI Month. You can see more of our AANHPI stories on our social media networks at the bottom of this webpage. The following Q&A spotlights Maya Nishida, a 2022 alumnus of the JABSOM Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS) Program who will be one of the incoming members of the JABSOM MD Class of 2028. This interview has been slightly condensed and modified for our audience.

Hi Maya! Thank you for speaking with us. Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Honolulu, Hawaiʻi and graduated from Mid-Pacific Institute. I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology from UH Mānoa in 2020, and then my Master of Science degree in Quantitative Health and Clinical Research from JABSOM in 2022.

During graduate school, I also worked as a pathology technician specializing in gross processing and volunteered for the Hawaiʻi H.O.M.E. Project. Outside of the classroom and hospital, I enjoy going on long runs, participating in races (I’m hoping to join the 2024 Honolulu Marathon!), going on hikes, spending time with friends over a meal or cup of coffee, and taking my corgi, Kevin, out for adventures.

Tell us about your current research.
My current research involves the improvement of family-centered care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). With my research, I hope to empower NICU parents as partners in their children’s care and improve family-centered care education. I am motivated by the opportunity to not only help individual patients and their families, but also work toward a positive culture change that has the potential to impact our unit into the future.


Why did you choose to study at JABSOM and how has your graduate experience here prepared you for your future endeavors?
I chose JABSOM over other graduate schools because I felt strongly about taking on this endeavor surrounded by my support systems and wanted to study clinical research in the unique context of Hawaiʻi’s cultural and ethnic diversity. I feel fortunate to have taken classes in which we learned about cultural competence, cultural humility, and frameworks for indigenizing research methodologies and health and science education.

What have you found the most exciting about pursuing your graduate studies at JABSOM?
As a graduate student at JABSOM, I was most excited to be learning and conducting research in Hawaiʻi. I felt an abundance of support from my peers, faculty, and mentors as a student in JABSOM’s Quantitative Health and Clinical Research Graduate Program. It meant so much to me to know that I’m learning subject matter relevant to my community and that my work has the potential to make a positive difference in my community.

What are your long-term career goals?
Since graduating, I’ve taken on the role of Neonatal Data Entry Operator and began working for the Honolulu Emergency Services Department.

I was recently accepted into JABSOM’s MD program and look forward to joining the class of 2028. I have been passionately interested in medicine since childhood and I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to return to the camaraderie of JABSOM’s student body, learn from the professors that supported me through graduate school, and continue to serve the community close to my heart.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice to share with incoming JABSOM graduate students?
Your peers share in feeling challenged and stressed during graduate school. Please uplift others and don’t be afraid to look to your classmates, professors, and mentors for support.

Any encouragement for other AANHPI individuals?
If you are interested in a future in science or research and come from an underrepresented background, I urge you to push the envelope, pursue your passion, and represent your community. Be proud of your accomplishments and remember that you deserve to be where you are!