During my internship, I encountered a patient who was very anxious. I could sense that the rails were coming off during the medical exam. Without thinking twice, I went over to him, brought him a cool cloth and put my hand on his shoulder to calm him. His breathing slowly returned to normal. I remember when we studied patient psychology and intervention methods in school, I didn’t think I would be able to apply the techniques we were learning. But it actually came very naturally to me! I was so proud of myself when I realized that I could do it!
Cristhin is a modern-day hero. Abused by her stepmother, abandoned by her father—at 15, she had to make a heartbreaking choice, one that ultimately allowed her to build her own future. Just a few days from becoming a nuclear medicine technologist and diving headfirst into adulthood, she can finally say, “Mission accomplished!”
In 2020, Quebecers were moved when Cristhin shared her story in the media. She left her mother and native country of the Dominican Republic to join her father in Canada when she was just 11, with dreams of a better life. But her dream quickly became a nightmare.
With a physically and psychologically abusive stepmother and a father who was increasingly absent, over the years it became clear to Cristhin that her fairytale would not come true. Returning from a trip to visit her mother, Cristhin was shattered to find that her father had left the apartment where she lived with him. She was alone.
The police gave her a choice. She could return to her mother in the Dominican Republic or stay in Quebec and build another life for herself.
Cristhin chose to continue believing in her dream.
In the custody of the DPJ, she was put in the care of a foster family that offered her stability and affection. Little by little, she recovered and began looking ahead to the future with hope.
In 2020, Cristhin began studying nuclear medicine technology with the Fondation’s support. After living through a pandemic, experiencing major health issues and doubting her own journey, where is she today?
Finding Her Voice
In May 2023, Cristhin aced her final internship as a nuclear medicine technologist at Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé, where she also works on weekends. Not only does she love what she does, but she now feels she has found her place. She has gained self-confidence, in both her professional and personal life. Contact with patients has been a major benefit.
In recent years, Cristhin worked on building relationships with her classmates and colleagues.
“I feel better these days. I’ve been able to overcome my shyness and I am more open to people.”
The Right to Change Her Mind
Cristhin has received financial support from the Fondation since she started at college. The Fondation is here to support her choices, even if—like so many other students—her journey involved a change in direction.
She began her studies in nursing and quickly realized that it was not the career for her. But she felt unsure about changing programs when her tuition was paid by the Fondation. So she spoke with her youth worker.
The great part was that I didn’t feel judged. I didn’t feel obliged to stay in nursing for financial reasons. She helped me understand that I am entitled to change my mind. That what mattered most was that I felt fulfilled. It was such a relief!
The Fondation saved me a lot of financial stress when I was at school! Not only did it pay for part of my tuition fees, books, computer and assist me occasionally with grocery gift cards, the Fondation was also there to help me out from time to time.
When I started my first internship at the hospital, my white coat was stained. I was embarrassed to start a new job with clothes that were less than perfect. Once again, my youth worker was happy to help me obtain a new coat. As trivial as it might seem, this support made all the difference.
More than financial assistance, a human connection
Beyond financial assistance, the Fondation also represents a human connection for Cristhin.
Meeting with my youth worker to take care of my bills is never a pointless exercise for me. I was always happy to go see her and have human contact. When I am busier, she calls me to catch up. Just knowing that someone is thinking about me does me so much good!
A Promising Future
During her training, Cristhin suffered major health problems. However, this unfortunate episode had an unexpected consequence—her father came back into her life. It took time to rebuild trust, but today she is happy to affirm that their relationship is “repaired”. He will be at her graduation ceremony, which is a great source of joy for her.
Now, Cristhin is dreaming about her adulthood and all it will offer. No more juggling an internship, school and work, leaving just four days off per month! She dreams of coming home after a day of work and finding time to cook, work out and relax with her boyfriend and friends.
And what makes her even more excited as she prepares to graduate, is that she is entering adulthood feeling fulfilled and happy, something that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago.
“I feel like I’m on the right track.”
We left Cristhin on those words in 2020. Three years later, on the eve of graduating, with plans for the future with her boyfriend and toying with the idea of going to university, Cristhin’s efforts and perseverance have finally allowed her to experience happiness in a life she built herself. For Cristhin, this “end” is actually a beginning!
*A special thanks to the communications team at Fondation Cité-de-la-Santé and Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé for welcoming us with such enthusiasm and for their generosity during the shoot.