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Emory donors fuel nursing leadership dreams

Pictured here, from left, are Mark Lee 18ABSN, Robert W. Woodruff Scholar; Lauren Verity 18AMSN, Hearst scholar; and Ann Craven 18BSN, Josephine Malone scholar.

Heartfelt thanks expressed at donor, scholarship recipient reception

By Andy Goodell, Communications Manager
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Scholarship recipients at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing expressed their thanks to donors who helped make their top-tier nursing education possible during a reception at the Druid Hills Golf Club. The event included more than 200 donors and student scholarship recipients.

After introductory words from Amy Dorrill, associate dean of development & alumni relations and Dean Linda McCauley, several scholarship recipients told their personal stories of achievement, thanks to their individual scholarships.

The Lehr family with the first Sally T. Lehr scholarship recipient, Hannah Spero 19AMSN. From left to right: David Ridenour, Elizabeth Lehr Ridenour, Carolyn Lehr Facteau, Hannah Spero 19AMSN, Ralph Lehr 65C 69DDS, Allison Lehr Weatherspoon, and Dustin Weatherspoon.

Among the students expressing their gratitude were Ann Craven 18BSN, a Josephine Malone Scholar; Lauren Verity 18AMSN, a Hearst Scholar; and Mark Lee 18ABSN, a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar. Additional scholarship recipients unable to attend the reception because they are stationed around the world, thanked donors via video presentation. These included Brittany Eddy 09MPH 17AMSN, who is helping with healthcare recovery in the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma and Maria; Dria Abramson 17ABSN, who graduated in December and is working at the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, California; and Brandon Spratt 17BSN 19DNP, who is currently in northwest Ethiopia conducting a research project for his DNP degree.

Craven, of Monroe, GA, is a true legacy nursing student. Her mother and aunts are Emory Nursing alums, and all joined her grandmother in the nursing profession. The BSN student says she always loved hearing about their nursing experiences and that each are women who lead by example, teaching her what it means to have integrity, be compassionate, selfless, and hardworking. During her speech, Craven expressed appreciation to donors for giving her the opportunity to connect with her mentor, Linda Grabbe, PhD, who shares Craven’s passion for wellness interventions for nurses.

“I hope I can make as great of an impact on nursing students and nurses in the Emory Healthcare System just as they have impacted me,” said Craven.

Cheryl Murphy 77BSN with her Seavey Murphy Adopt-A-Scholar, Pele Solell 17Ox 19BSN.

Verity, of Marion, OH, said she pursued nursing because she has a true love and compassion for people, adding that she wants to make a difference in people’s lives by providing care and being an advocate for those in need. At a young age, Verity was led to the field of oncology. She would eventually enroll in the Emory Nursing MSN Program. Verity also thanked donors for supporting her passion for nursing.

“From the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you all enough,” Verity said to the audience of donors. “Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to give back the way you have given to us.”

Scholarship recipients and Accelerated MSN students gather at the scholarship reception to thank donors for their scholarship support. From left to right: Hannah Vaughn 19AMSN, Nursing Associates Scholarship recipient; Madeline Steffensen 19AMSN, Harriet & Ellis Williams Scholarship recipient; Brittany Ott 19AMSN, Ellen Bowden Nursing Scholarship recipient; Madison Whitlock 19AMSN, Dean’s Scholarship recipient; Meagan Huff 19AMSN, Dean’s Scholarship recipient; Nicole Anderson 19AMSN, Dean’s Scholarship recipient; and Samantha Johnson 19AMSN, School of Nursing Endowed Scholarship recipient.

Lee, of Berkley, Calif., came to Emory Nursing’s ABSN program after having earned a Master of Science degree in Global Health from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. These courses of study comingle well with Lee’s overall philosophy on improving health worldwide because doing so requires collaboration at both the population and patient levels. He says training as a nurse affords him a great opportunity to work collaboratively across teams and settings to coordinate positive health outcomes. During the evening celebrating nursing donors and scholarship recipients, Lee said he wanted to have just as much of an impact on the future of health care as the donors sitting before him have had on him and his fellow scholarship recipients.

“Thank you for supporting our dreams and our passions,” said Lee.

Susan Greb 90BSN with Dean Linda McCauley 79MN. Greb is an alumna and donor who traveled from Vancouver, Washington to attend the event.

Our nursing donors are alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the school all with a shared mission with the School of Nursing to transform nursing, heath and systems of health care within the local and global community through education, research and clinical practice.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 5

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

“Donde estamos hacia dónde vamos” which is Spanish for, “where we are and where we are going.” This is the quote on the presenter slide of “ADAMES“ which was celebrating 15 years of operating as well as a despedida for Dr. Jenny Foster.

This entire trip has been such a privilege and we are so fortunate to have serendipitously been able to explore Dr. Fosters last trip bringing students, and we just so happen to be a part of a luxurious and grand ceremony! It was so moving to see how the grassroots and community based program evolved over the years to tackle issues with innovative solutions such as through canguru implementation, establishing a new clinic, and most recently, hablameme bebé (a Georgia Public Health initiative)!

Through partnerships with the University, we were able to foster an education connection and give presentations about these initiatives as well as a pharmacology course to Dominican Republican nursing students so they can be leaders at the forefront of their communities. The dedication of multiple community health leaders to invest their own time and energy to the health of their localities highlights the community- oriented attitudes of the Dominican Republic.

We also saw this first hand when we saw how remarkably innovative and comprehensive their clinic was, including: patient education in the waiting room, a colorful poster about contraceptives, a dentist office, a stocked pharmacy, a casita for residents to sleep in over nights, and an entire map of their local region with little thumbtacks for each constituent.

A testament of the health and strength of the mind and body came from a 105-year-old-grandma we did a home visit too, who immediately went to the clinic after our recommendations and blessed all of us with good fortune. Through all of our various experiences throughout the week, we truly saw how far this program has come and the energy and momentum for how far it will continue to go. Donde estamos hacia dónde vamos.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 4

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

The most important thing when traveling to a foreign country is having an open mind and open heart to new experiences and ways of life.

These alternative breaks are extremely valuable for students to see how health infrastructure operates in a country with less resources. However, we must ponder: is it worse? is it better? The short answer is neither. We realize everything is relative.

It’s been a true privilege to be able to see and compare hospitals, clinics, and home visits in the Dominican Republic. It’s been incredibly meaningful to see how c-sections, pediatric emergency visits, canguru care for premature babies, and wound care happens here.

From people pouring sugar on pressure ulcers, hospitals autoclaving their own materials, to carrying a baby in arms from the OR to the NICU, we saw that things operated here differently yet worked for them. Furthermore, we realized that simply being there and continuously showing up and being present for a family is integral in the art of nursing.

After presenting with some basic essentials, we were returned with a beautiful prayer and song. On the other hand, nursing is also research driven. Through partnering with local nursing students here in the Dominican Republic, we equip and empower them with tools to help transform their community through a resilience model. However, it is crystal clear to us that there is already so much resilience embedded into the hearts and communities of the Dominican Republic.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 3

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

Rather than a typical health clinic with a 15 minute time slot, we went into the community of Manhattan with a doctor and did home visits to contextualize the patient’s health and way of life.

We walked through the dirt roads and knocked on doors only to be graciously welcomed into these patients’ cement homes, and more intimately into these patients’ lives. As we did our interview and nursing assessment and interventions, we were overwhelmed with a sense of community and acceptance as foreigners, even so far as a woman taking a painting she made off her wall and giving it to us.

We continued our day volunteering at the hospital, and noticed the stark differences in resources and supplies. However, the patients and staff were overwhelmingly eager to have us to listen to their story and help in anyway we can whether it be doing a newborn assessment, watching chest tubes be put in after a gun shot wound, or going across the street to fetch an empanada and jugo de naranja and an empanada for a patient.

Although their health infrastructure may be different, we appreciated the beauty in the differences and the resilience of the people.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 2

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

Symbiosis. The strength of this trip lies within community partnerships and continuity of care. As we toured San Vicente hospital, we were all welcomed by the nurses, staff, and doctors who were enthusiastic to see Dr. Foster yet again for her 15th and final trip. We saw the canguru program for premature babies in action, with moms carefully holding their baby on their chest waiting to be seen by the doctor for an infant follow up. We also saw the tremendous amount of research and global community parternship it took to implement the program in the first place.

We then did a community home visit as per the referral of PT students who visited this home a week prior. After a tragic accident that left the head of the household paralyzed with a trach and some of his skull removed, we found ourselves admiring the resourcefulness of the family and the support they gave each other. Ending with a prayer, we realized how crucial it is for nurses to simply be present and work symbiotically with the family.

Alternative Spring Break – Dominican Republic, Day 1

By Danielle Dimacali
Photo by Manmit Singh

After flying across international borders and traversing through TSA guidelines, we are warmly welcomed by Dr. Foster and our gracious host, Rosa, at the airport. The Spanish chattering, the bachata playing in the streets, and the warm embrace of the islands remind us we are indeed in the Dominican Republic.

Rosa’s casa is warm and inviting— adorned with plants, scattered with fruits, and a Dominican Republic feast of plantains, rice, beans, chickens, and fresh squeezed passion fruit juice waiting for us on the table. We realized how lucky we are to be in such a unique position to learn about not only the Dominican Republic health care infrastructure, but have an intimate glimpse of the people, the culture, and the way of life through an immersive experience. As we recognize our own biases and our role as Emory Nursing students and American outsiders on this trip, Rachel succinctly summarized our expectations for this trip with this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 7

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

On Friday, March 16th, we went to a nursing home in Ponce, Centro Geriatrico de la Ave. We were thrown right into work and helped the staff with the morning showers of the residents. Once all the residents were showered and dressed we took them into the dining room for breakfast.

We took blood sugars and helped feed some of the residents. After breakfast, we took most of the residents into the day room. We ambulated some patients through the facility and helped the charge nurse give out medications. Soon after we all gathered in the day room and one of the nurses played music.

We had a great time dancing and playing dominoes with the residents for a couple of hours. Gladys whipped out her guitar and some of the girls in the group sang some songs for the residents alongside her. The residents loved it and it was such a joyful time.

We then walked around the facility and turned and changed some bed ridden patients. Afterwards, we took the residents back to the dining room for lunch, again helped serve and feed them.

We had a surprise visit from one of the Puerto Rican senators, Senator Cruz, that helps out a lot with the nursing home.

After the nursing home we went back to Blankito’s for lunch. We then went to Castillo Serrallés in Ponce that was built in the 1930s for Juan Eugenio Serrallés who owned the large sugar cane factory in Ponce. We were able to tour the beautiful house and get some souvenirs.

The group ended the trip with a beautiful dinner at a local Italian fusion restaurant in Ponce Plaza and celebrated all the great experiences we had in Puerto Rico.

On Saturday morning we traveled back to San Juan from Ponce to go to the airport and landed safely back in Atlanta. I think I speak for the group in saying that the trip was really inspirational and humbling, especially to see places like the hospital that still did not have power and the nursing home. This trip not only taught us to be more culturally sensitive when providing care in our practice but also to appreciate the resources we have as nurses in the United States and how important it is to give back to the community around us and in places like Puerto Rico.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 6

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

On Thursday, March 15th, we headed to Hospital Castañer where we were welcomed and given a tour by Dr. Jose Rodriguez. The group was given a brief history of the hospital and we were able to meet with the nursing director.

This hospital is located in the mountains and serves the surrounding towns. The hospital still did not have power since Hurricane Maria hit so it was being run completely on generators.

The group had the opportunity to go through different rotations in the hospital. Pairs went to the emergency department, the inpatient facility, the clinic, the laboratory, and went on home visits with a doctor.

Most of the facilities ran very similarly to how hospitals run in the states but the home visits were very different and an interesting experience. Two of us went out with a doctor, an LPN, and a med student in a small van to different patient houses that were either too far into the mountains or the patients were bed ridden and unable to travel.

Although Spanish was a barrier for most of us to communicate with patients, we overcame it and had an amazing experience learning how hospitals are run in Puerto Rico. Tomoyo even had the opportunity to place an IV for the first time ever.

We finished the trip watching a movie about how the hospital was founded and created and toured the new emergency department that is being built currently.

After the hospital, we traveled back to Ponce and everyone took a nap in the van. The day was really amazing for the group. It was eye opening to see how a hospital is run in Puerto Rico and see the similarities and differences between care and nursing roles. It was especially interesting after learning so much from the nursing association president on Monday and then seeing what he taught is physically in the hospitals.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 5

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

Today, March 14th, the group had an amazing day at the Salvation Army. The corps organized for us to present a variety of health topics to a regular group of older adults. The director introduced all of us and a couple of the group members led the room in different songs to start the morning.

We then proceeded to teach the group in pairs about nutrition and diabetes, how to do self-breast exams, Alzheimer’s disease, and hypertension and smoking cessation. A few of us were able to speak to the crowd in Spanish but for the most part Gladys translated what we presented in English to the group and helped us answer the audience’s questions.

The adults were very engaged and interested in our topics. After the presentations, we led different stations for each topic. At one station we took blood pressures, at another we took blood sugars, we did breast exams, and we continued the conversation about Alzheimer’s.

They were very grateful for us and it was so rewarding to teach them about health and wellness. Once everyone had been assessed the corps fed us another amazing lunch of churrasco con arroz and grandules, and guineitos en escabeche. The group then headed back to the hotel for an afternoon off. We, the students, decided to go souvenir shopping and secretly go to a local bakery where we picked up some pastries to celebrate Dr. Zhang’s birthday at dinner! We ate at a local pizza place for dinner and of course got ice cream again.

Alternative Spring Break – Puerto Rico, Day 4

By Lindsey Zwecker
Photographer: Trisha Cabantac

For our fourth day in Puerto Rico, the group had quite the adventure. We started off going to a local Salvation Army store in Ponce where we fed and took blood pressures of some homeless people. We got the chance to practice some Spanish medical terms and worked on communication with the local people. We served 96 people that morning. Afterwards we went to National University College and met with nursing students. We had the opportunity to mingle with them and hear about their program and Dr. Zhang gave a lecture on NCLEX questions and how to prepare for it.

Next, we ventured to the main Salvation Army building in Ponce where they cooked us lunch, our favorite meal so far this trip, chicken with gandules and arroz. We then went back to the hotel to rest for a couple hours before heading out on the major adventure of the day, street medicine. The group piled in the van and we traveled to Cayey, Puerto Rico to meet people from the organization Initiative Comunidad (IC). On the way, we stopped for dinner at beautiful restaurant, Pastelillos, on the ocean where we ate some interesting paradillas. These were 12-inch-long empanada-type foods that were stuffed with chicken, beef, conch, shrimp, cheese, and the best of all… shark. The views were beautiful and the group had a wonderful time looking at the water and sitting on the beach. Of course, we took lots of pictures.

After dinner, we ventured further to Cayey. On the way, we stopped and purchased sandwich making supplies to feed the homeless with IC. We made our way to the group leader’s house where we then made sandwiches and hygiene kits to hand out. Once all the supplies were ready we headed back out on our van following behind the group leader’s car to different places where IC meets different homeless people. The goal of the experience was to feed and talk to these people in order to establish a relationship and help them out. We went to five or six different areas in Cayey and Cidra and fed them the sandwiches, coffee, juice, and a delicious soup. It was a wonderful experience to see these people and how they live and most significantly hear their stories. We finally headed back to Ponce around 1 a.m. and went straight to bed for our early morning on Wednesday at the Salvation Army Health Fair.