Whenever I get the question “Why did you choose nursing school?”, I almost always respond with my usual, “You know, it just kind of happened.” That question takes me back a bit and makes me think about why I chose nursing and how I got here. Occasionally I even think back to an information session where we were presented with the wide varieties of undergraduate studies at Emory. I remember that I turned to my friend, and laughed at the idea of becoming a nurse. Although it often feels like nursing school was just something that just happened to me, I sure am glad that it happened. I am glad that I tagged along with my friend to a pre-nursing club “Meet the Juniors” event that got me thinking about nursing school. I am glad that this profession, that is rooted in caring, found me. On my very first day of classes in nursing school I hoped and prayed that I had made the right decision, and I have found over the course of my four semesters here that I am indeed in the right place. I did not know much about public or global health or the role of nurses in those settings until I got to nursing school. I did know, even before nursing school, that I would like to spend my career providing care in any way I could to anyone who needs it. As a scholar in the Building Nursing’s Diverse Leadership at Emory (BUNDLE) program I have learned about public health nursing, the need for cultural diversity and awareness in nursing and nursing care, and being a nurse leader and a force for change. Between my classes and my BUNDLE experience I found that I wanted to be a public or global health nurse. My alternative winter break trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica (which I was on the fence about going to) really confirmed that for me.Upon arrival in Montego Bay, we were on the road and ready to take on our first project a few hours after arriving. I had never been happier and filled with a greater sense of fulfillment while immensely exhausted as I was on this trip. We were gone from early in the morning to late at night setting up clinics in churches, teaching reproductive health, doing yoga with hearing impaired students and so much more. One of many profound moments for me was when a man who had visited our church clinic came back with a bunch of plantains for a student who had taken his blood pressure to show thanks for the care he received. Our clinic on that day simply offered blood pressure and glucose checks, BMI calculation, some health education, and a few incentives such as anti-fungal cream and reading glasses. These are things that do not seem like much to us in the United States, but a farmer in rural Jamaica valued these simple things so much that he was willing to give us his produce as a token of appreciation.This experience solidified my goal to become a public/global health nurse. It reminded me that there are people around the world, and even in the United States, who do not have the resources that we take for granted. Whenever I think back to the experience, I want to continue to strive toward the goal of sharing the skills and knowledge that I have been fortunate enough to gain through my nursing school experience and training. I want to use these skills to empower others around the world to take charge of their health. I hope to continue to learn and push myself as an individual and a nurse from my experiences with the diverse groups of people I encounter.
Elizabeth Balogun is a BSN 2017 student and a BUNDLE scholar. She is from Lawrenceville, Georgia and hopes to become a public/global health nurse providing care for low resource and underserved populations around the world.