Kaci Anderson. Photography courtesy of the Dallas Independent School District.

Millions of health care workers are at increased risk of contracting the coronavirus while battling on the front lines of the pandemic, but 18-year-old Kaci Anderson isn’t letting that stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse.

Last summer, the student at the Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Academy on Ross Avenue interned at the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation analyzing COVID-19 data for trends. She saw firsthand that communities of color are more at risk of getting sick and dying from the virus.

“Looking at the stats and seeing the drastic difference between whites, African-Americans and Hispanics was unacceptable in my opinion,” she said. “It solidified my decision. I took it as a way to fuel the fire to keep pushing forward. I want to innovate the health care industry as a whole.”

Anderson is a strong advocate for diversity in the health care industry. In February, she published an article on the digital media platform “Getting Smart” detailing her experience as a Black woman pursuing the profession.

The health care system must change how it operates by building a talent pipeline to meet growing health concerns and ensuring medical professionals represent the demographics of those in need. This can start as soon as students enter high school by advocating for school districts to obtain resources to provide opportunities for students of all backgrounds to see themselves as future members of this critical industry.

In high school, Anderson used her can-do spirit to start the Black Excellence club at her school. The club provides a space for students of color to talk about race and bias. She also served as student council president and chapter president of the National Society of Black Engineers.

After graduating, Anderson plans to attend Regis University in Colorado and major in nursing. Her goal is to own multiple practices where minority staff diagnose and treat injuries on campus.

“I’ve done a lot of research on systemic racism, and even though I’m younger, if I can see the problem, we really have to make a change,” she said. “We don’t want it to keep going the way it’s going. I’m the type of person that if someone else hasn’t done it, I can do.”