Sarah Bush Lincoln nurse Lanexjoy Grape, RN, is excited to be a U.S. citizen so she can stay in the United States fulfilling her childhood dream.
“When I was little, I always wanted to be a nurse and I wanted to work abroad. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s our Philippine mentality to work abroad, maybe because our country has a lot of poverty and our government is very corrupt,” she said.
Lanex was touched when her coworkers gathered on 2 South to celebrate her proud accomplishment with a flag-decorated cake and snacks on Oct. 6. “I’m touched. I didn’t expect any of this,” Lanex said, and she sang her co-workers a snippet of the “Star Spangled Banner” for fun.
“I grew up on a beautiful island in the Philippines and I’m not sure how I ended up in Illinois, but faith, hope and work brought me here,” she said.
Lanex completed nursing school in the Philippines, where she worked for several years in the operating room, delivery room and in clinical education before leaving to work at a rehabilitation hospital in Singapore for four years. “I actually applied to work in the U.S. since I was 24 years old and it took me six years to come here. It’s a long process,” she said.
In 2013, she took advantage of her first opportunity to come to the United State, where she signed a three-year contract to work at a nursing home. “Working in the nursing home was a shock because I grew up in a close-knit family where we take care of each other and seeing loved ones in a nursing home just broke my heart,” she said.
As soon as her contract was up, Lanex jumped at the opportunity to work at Sarah Bush Lincoln, after being referred to the job by three SBL employees she met at a party celebrating their Filipino heritage. “I feel very blessed to have met them. I started working at Sarah Bush Lincoln in 2015, so it will be five years in another month and I love it here,” she said. She also was married after being introduced to her huband, Andrew, by her uncle who worked with him in Canada.
To earn her U.S. citizenship, Lanex had to demonstrate her knowledge of basic American history, geography and the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship, in addition to completing paperwork, pay a fee and be interviewed. The process took about 18-months and Lanex attended a naturalization ceremony in a federal courtroom in Chicago in August. The ceremony was very brief, with many COVID-19-conscious restrictions in place, but it was a special day.
“I’m very happy working in the U.S. It was an eye-opening experience at first working in the nursing home, but it was a great experience. I think all the diversity and cultures I’ve experienced is helping me become a better nurse,” she said.