Mya Ford

School of Nursing

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

President of the Duquesne NAACP chapter, 2019 Miss Black Duquesne

“It really makes me happy when I can facilitate and bring students together in one room and really just talk and be comfortable with each other,” says Mya Ford, a senior nursing student from Forest Hill, Md. Connection is a fundamental part of the Duquesne experience for students like Mya Ford, a testament to the skills that serve students throughout life, making enduring connections, learning together and being open to insights from anyone is represented throughout her time here.

For her many efforts to bring people together at Duquesne, Ford was recognized with a 2021 Spirit of Diversity Award from the Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion (formerly known as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, or ODI).

This semester, the ODI expanded its role on campus, changed names and reopened in a new space. Ford discussed its impact on her at the center’s grand opening. “Being from Maryland, home has not been close for me when I am away at school,” she says. “Thanks to ODI, I have always had a home away from home. ODI has deeply impacted my college experiences in the best way possible.”

One of the ways Ford was involved with ODI was as a student ambassador. "I made really great, lifelong friends through that program—the kind of people you can use as your backbone and lean on during the rest of your time at school."

Having benefitted so much from the program, Ford said she wanted to “pay it forward” and help out.

“I came from a predominantly white town where there wasn't a lot of representation. Then, when I came to Duquesne and I saw that there are more people that look like me, I wanted to gravitate toward them and be in a space where it's comfortable for me,” Ford says. “And then I realized that I'm not the only one that grew up in a predominantly white area where they constantly felt left out or singled out or just different. So, I think there's a sense of unity”

As an active member of the Duquesne chapter of Strong Women, Strong Girls, Ford has served as a role model for Pittsburgh-area elementary school girls with whom the chapter works.

“We go to recreational centers with them after school, and we put on programs,” Ford explains. “(It gives the girls) opportunities to learn more about science and art. We also just try to mold them into strong women and try to lead by example.”

Ford is also president of Duquesne’s NAACP chapter.

“We talk about different racially stricken topics, like the U.S. presidency or the culture now...and it gives students the opportunity to voice their opinions and see if they're the only one thinking this or they're not the only one,” Ford says, of discussions in chapter meetings.

Early during her time on the Bluff, Ford said she noticed lagging participation in the NAACP chapter and began to enlist her friends and others to get involved. She was later handpicked to serve as the chapter president. Ford hopes to turn selecting the next chapter president into a tradition.

"With any leadership position, you have to have a team," Ford says. "If you give other people the opportunity to do tasks and contribute to the plan, then they feel included. They contribute their best selves.”

Off campus, Ford received professional training as a patient care technician (PCT) at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Intermediate Care Unit (IMC).

As she works toward her bigger goals, Ford will continue to build bridges and create greater equity in her career as a nurse. Her experience working in the ICU with COVID-19 patients was both eye-opening and exhausting, but Ford says it reaffirmed her commitment help others. After graduation she will return to Maryland to work at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center.

“I want to focus on the specialty of women's health because I love women and women-empowerment,” Ford says. “I want to focus on the health disparities of African-American women.”