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Nursing Students Raise Funds for Guatemalan Mission
6/18/2014

This August, six senior nursing students and Pamela Hodges, associate professor in the School of Nursing, will participate in a service-learning project in Guatemala through Addicks United Methodist Church and What Matters Ministry and Missions.

Students will work with AUMC and WMMM at Casa Angelina, an orphanage right outside Antigua, Guatemala. Casa Angelina, one of the largest orphanages in Central America, provides access to health care, food, shelter and an education to widows and orphans. Students will also assist in construction work, cleaning, planting and interacting with the children.

The offer to participate in the project was extended to the entire nursing cohort, but participation is limited to six students. Hodges said a lack of funding is preventing many from participating. The total cost per student is $1,400, and the students are responsible for raising their own funds. So far, their efforts have included fundraisers through AUMC and reaching out to family and friends. They are also working on a proposal to reach out to outside donors. 

“This will be the first opportunity of this type where the students are offered the experience to travel abroad during the nursing program,” Hodges said. “We’re hoping it provides a foundation to greater things, to other locations.”

Hodges, leader of the mission team at AUMC, is dedicated to expanding students’ knowledge and experience in their field.

“As faculty at the School of Nursing, I’m passionate about advancing the international service-learning opportunities to enhance the UST nursing students’ personal and professional growth, critical thinking and global contributions,” Hodges said.

Paloma Salazar, a senior nursing student who recently worked on a community service project at AUMC with 14 other nursing students, said she is committed to helping others achieve their goals while empowering them to make a difference. 

“I believe this opportunity will be a life-changing experience in that it will allow me to grow not only as a nursing student but also as a person,” Salazar said. “And it will help me gain the confidence that I need to uphold the reputation of my profession with excellence and integrity while engendering trust and confidence among my patients.”

Even though the service project is outside the students’ required coursework and does not count toward institutional credit, Hodges said expectations are high. Students are required to complete preparatory research and data collection, paperwork, go through safe sanctuary training through AUMC and document their experience through daily journaling and photographs.

Hodges and the students have big plans for the data collected from the project. They hope to disseminate the results at local, state, national and international levels, and use it for future projects.

While the project is not currently sponsored by the University’s study abroad program, Hodges and other faculty members of the SON hope that students in future semesters will be able to receive institutional credit for their participation in similar projects. Other SON faculty members are working on additional study abroad opportunities for the nursing students.

There are also opportunities for SON to collaborate with the Social Entrepreneurship Program in the future.  

“I envision this initial trip as just the beginning of a continued effort in which nursing students every year will have opportunities to use their skills and knowledge to make a difference with the underserved populations,” Hodges said. “As one group of students begin by assessing, the next group may be able to implement various projects.”

To support the nursing students’ mission, contact Pamela Hodges at hodgespj@stthom.edu or 210-823-4187.

All contributions made to AUMC in support of the nursing students are tax-deductible. 


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