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Hayes’ helping hand

By Monica Grice

Overwhelmed. This is how Maria Hayes felt walking through the rain forest of Nicaragua.

It’s day three of the Texas State University nursing student’s trip, and they set out to complete census’ of a rural community located in the rain forest.

“Many of us went into this experience being very timid and unsure of what we have learned up to this point,” said nursing student Logan Smith. “However, once we got accustomed to conducting assessments and communicating with patients, the uncertainty melted away and confidence was built.”

Confidence is something Hayes exuberated without fault while abroad. Her adaptation to the Nicaraguan culture communicated her will to help people, and her love of nursing.

Next Stop Nicaragua

The Denison, Texas, native fell in love with healthcare when she was a student in high school.

Hayes spent 12 hours a day for a week shadowing doctors and nurses at her local hospital and experienced everything from surgeries to deliveries, which made her want to be a nurse midwife.

“The first delivery I saw, I cried; it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” said Hayes. “That’s the moment I knew I wanted to be a nurse.”

Hayes on day two in Nicaragua. Photo by Monica Grice.

Hayes went to Nicaragua with her nursing school colleagues in January hoping to see what it was like to practice global health as a travel nurse, and to brush up on her Spanish.

Hayes originally enrolled at Texas State University in San Marcos as an engineering major.

“I wasn’t really connected to that; I knew I would get a job and went with it for that reason,” said Hayes.

After talking with her father, she ended her engineering major and pursued a nursing career.

Clinic Days

While in Nicaragua, the College of Health Professions students split into three groups and spent four days in three communities.

On the first day in the community, the teams were guided through the villages to interview community members and take a health census. The census would give them a better understanding of what illnesses were in the community, and how to prepare for them when clinic days arrived.

Hayes saw patients at a clinic located deep in the rainforest of Ticuantepe, Nicaragua.

“She just jumped right into whatever challenge was set before her,” said fellow nursing student Jessica Yehl. “She communicated well, assessed her patients with all the skill of an actual nurse, and was so prepared to help the team in whatever way she could.”

Hayes during day two of clinics. Photo by Monica Grice.

Hayes remembered meeting a young woman in her 20’s on the day they collected census. The woman was emotional because she had a lump in her breast that she believed to be cancerous. Since the team didn’t have any medical supplies on them that day, Hayes urged the woman to come to the clinic. She came on the first day, but became nervous and left, leaving Hayes worried for her health.

Day five was frustrating for Hayes. The woman still hadn’t shown, and another patient’s blood pressure was dangerously high. Hayes and other healthcare students urged the woman to go to the hospital, but never found out if she did. It left Hayes feeling like she wanted to do more, but she couldn’t.

“I think her ability to be realistic sets her apart,” said Yehl. “A lot of nurses can be tempted to sugar coat hard situations, but she just gives it straight.”

On the third, and last day of clinics, Hayes felt rewarded.

“I feel really proud of the team and how much work we accomplished,” said Hayes.

The Woman From The Rainforest

After the last day of clinics, the Texas State group returned to one of the clinics for a day of giving back. Games, balloons, and a piñata were brought for the children and triage stations were set up outside of the church for any remaining community members who hadn’t been assessed.

Hayes’ clinic was chosen.

The woman from the rainforest was there. Hayes helped assess her and found out the lump was mastitis.

“I’ve been worried all week,” said Hayes.

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast most common during the first six months of breastfeeding. Although painful, it’s not serious and can be remedied easily.

The emotion Hayes expressed was pure joy. She got the reassurance she had been waiting days for. Her worries were alleviated.

“That was really good, it was so relieving,” said Hayes. “I told her ‘I was ready to climb back up the mountain and find you,’ she thought that was really funny.”

She made a warm compress for the woman and explained how to continue treating the inflammation.

Hayes recalls this day as being the best part of the trip.

Returning Home

“I feel like I don’t need to be home,” said Hayes.

After the clinics, the team had a few recreational days and went to the nursing home in Masaya.

The nursing home was a unique experience for Hayes. As a career, she loves working with children. She seemed a bit hesitant, the whole team did. However, she molded quickly to the environment and left happy.

“She was able to adapt to the different culture and conditions of Nicaragua and perform confident and competent assessments on patients,” said Smith.

The day before the team’s departure, Hayes didn’t want to leave.

“It’s a bitter feeling to leave,” she said. “I wish we could have a few extra days.”

The soon-to-be midwife gained a deeper knowledge of the people and the country during the trip. Fellow nursing students, Smith and Yehl, admired how Hayes was able to jump into any situation and tackle it.

In the 11 days the Texas State team was in Nicaragua, Hayes explored what it’s like to be a travel nurse and practice global health: she thinks she can do it.

“I definitely loved it and I definitely think I could see myself doing it long term,” she said.

Hayes with a village girl. Photo by Monica Grice.

Journalism in the Jungle

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By: Taeler Kallmerten

In January 2017, five students were chosen from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University by journalism professor, Holly Wise, to take part in the Global News Team’s second trip to Nicaragua.

The Global News Team is a study abroad program created in 2015 that embeds mass communication students with international service learning teams.

This year’s Global News Team embedded with 28 students and faculty from the College of Health Professions on their service learning trip to Nicaragua where they assessed and treated patients in rural villages.

The 2017 inter-professional teams consisted of three medical professions –  nursing, respiratory therapy and clinical laboratory science.


“Flying in the first thing I noticed was the terrain. It was so mountainous and I could see numerous volcanos from the plane.” – From the daily reflections of Global News Team contributor, Taeler Kallmerten (TK)

Prior to their January departure, the Global News Team met three times in November and December to brainstorm story ideas and their travel itinerary.

Exsar Arguello, a senior journalism, said he researched the country’s health care and culture before leaving.

“I think it’s good to have a general understanding of the place you’re going to, but as an industry where everything changes so fast you live by experience,” he said.

Websites like Reporters Without Borders and World Health Organization provided the team with a better understanding of Nicaragua.

According to RWB, Nicaragua’s constitution allows the government to censor and restrain the press. The country is ranked 75th among 180 nations in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index. In comparison, the United States is ranked 45th and Nicaragua’s neighbor Costa Rica is ranked number six.

Two flights and a school bus ride later the team arrived at Hotel El Raizon on Jan. 2. The Global News Team assembled and began preparation for the busy on-site days.


“I overheard that Ivan, our translator, telling Jessica that in order to keep his English skills up for translating he watches Judge Judy and the People’s Court.”    -TK

The first day outside of the hotel, the teams were split into groups and sent off in different directions in the rural communities of Nicaragua.

The goal of the health professions team that day was to log information about the living conditions of the community members in the area. The health teams asked community members questions about their health while the Global News Team took notes and began looking for potential story subjects.

Monica Grice, a journalism major, said she didn’t really know where to start.

“I started taking pictures and videos not really knowing what to capture,” said Grice.  “Eventually you just kind of mold yourself into the environment and then you know what to look for as far as documenting goes.”

For the majority of the first day, the Global News Team was busy observing people, places and things.

Darcy Sprague, a journalism major, said she focused her attention on Jennifer Pemp and Andrew Pagel, a nursing student and clinical lab science student she noticed on the plane.

“I was really just observing them and taking notes about what they were doing,” said Sprague. “I didn’t ask them any questions, but for the rest of my stories I was just trying to be present in the moment and decide what would be possible.”

The Global News Team members split up into three groups and traveled with the health professions students to report on their work.

Sprague said the timing of the work amongst the health professions teams and the Global News Team was the most difficult part about producing the stories.

“It seemed like when they were working, we were off and when they were off we were working,” said Sprague. “It was also constant work even when you were sitting around you would see the person you wanted to interview and you would be thinking about questions.”

Despite the time spent observing and staying in the background, the Global News Team interacted with community members and helped the health professionals whenever possible.

When the teams traveled to a nursing home in Nicaragua, only one Global News Team member planned to create a multimedia project. The four remaining students washed dishes, sorted through moldy fruit and helped residents into their rooms.

Team Dynamic

“We walked into our room and turned on the lights and boom scorpion on the floor. Darcy screamed, I ran out of the room, but Monica flipped out. She screamed not knowing exactly what she was screaming at but that we were screaming and she should too. It was the greatest thing I experienced in Nicaragua.” -TK

The time spent working together bonded the group and at the end of long days the Global News Team would stay up and talk about their day amongst each other before having to wake up at sunrise and do it all over again.

Ally Fluker, a digital media innovation student, said it was this time together that bonded the Global News Team.

“That kind of environment strengthened our ability to work together and it wasn’t weird and there wasn’t any hostility toward each other,” said Fluker.

Fluker said the time constraint made the trip intense and immersive.

“This showed us what it’s like to be a real life journalist to get in what you need when you need it in a time constraint,” said Fluker. “Whereas if you’re on campus for a whole semester you have more time and you have a professor spoon feeding you. We were there and Holly was like ‘OK, go.’”

Overall the Global News Team produced over 30 pieces of multimedia content and written stories and were co-recipients of the Texas State University Quarterly Team Award.




Nursing Home: My Experience

Andrew Pagel and Rebecca Duffy (nursing students) clean a wound on a resident. Photo taken by Monica Grice.

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By: Monica Grice

Before I even began packing for our Jan. 2 departure, I knew going to the Nicaraguan nursing home would be the toughest thing I would deal with on our study abroad trip.

Nursing homes in the U.S. are one thing, but I almost couldn’t stomach the one in Masaya.

To paint a picture, the residence is lovely. It’s a part of a catholic church and is run by the nuns. It has a beautiful outside courtyard with a church in the middle and all the rooms surround it.

But the reason I was disturbed is because most of the elders have either been abandoned, are homeless, or their families can’t take care of them. One nurse attends 43 residents, and all of them have some type of medical need. Many of the other staff are volunteers.

Since I decided to make one of my multimedia projects about the nursing home, I dove straight into documenting as soon as we got there. I didn’t have a clue where to start; I don’t think any of us did.

Some healthcare students were brushing the resident’s teeth, some were mopping, and even the mass communication students were doing kitchen work. As I started gathering myself and my work I had captured, I began to realize the state most of the elderly are in.

Mostly all of them have some type of bed sores, some don’t have the strength to feed themselves, and some just sit in a stupor. Most people think an abandoned child couldn’t possibly get any more tragic. To me, children are the epitome of hope. They have their whole future ahead of them, but these elderly residents don’t.

Some devoted their entire lives to providing for their family only to have to spend their last days with people they barely know. Once I got all I needed for my project, I had to take a break. I had no appetite, just a sort of numbness in my stomach.

When I came back from lunch, I saw that a DJ had set up music and the seniors were dancing with the healthcare students. This scene made my entire trip. In their minds, they’re happy. As an outsider looking in, I thought, “They don’t have a lot of medical supplies, everything from food to bedding is dependent on donations, and they seem tired and alone.”

They don’t see it that way. They find happiness in what they have and don’t linger on the thoughts of what they don’t have. Seeing them laughing and dancing energized the numbness I felt earlier, and left me with a smile on my face the rest of the trip.

Logan Smith (nursing student) dances with a resident after healthcare assessments and services. Photo taken by Monica Grice.

7 things I learned after following Texas State health professional students for 10 days

By: Taeler Kallmerten

As I followed and observed 18 nursing students, two respiratory therapy students, and four clinical laboratory sciences students in a span of 10 days, I learned many medical and non-medical things that will stay with me throughout my life.

  1. I learned not to confuse different occupations within the field of health professionals. For instance, a respiratory therapist is not a nurse and vice versa, and they will let you know that. I am speaking from personal experience. Since the group I was following consisted of 24 students with three different occupations, I had to learn everyone’s specialty before I learned everyone’s name.
  2. I learned that allergies to animals like chickens and cats can be linked to asthma. During our first outing in Nicaragua I followed four students and respiratory therapy faculty Sharon Armstead through the homes of the neighborhoods we were surveying. Armstead said that the chickens and cats roam inside and around the homes. She explained that this can cause asthma and also be a trigger for asthmatics.
  3. I learned there is a vast amount of asthma triggers including smoke from burning wood and trash, pets, pollution and physical exercise. However, the trigger that struck me most is that asthma can be emotionally triggered.
  4. I learned how to ask if someone has lung problems in Spanish. Hacer usted tienes el pulmón el problema?
  5. I learned that Nicaragua and a lot of other countries do not have respiratory therapists. It is a common practice that respiratory care is performed by a standard physician.
  6. I learned how to properly put together and use an inhaler. The respiratory therapy team gave seminars in a Nicaraguan Hospital to show nurses how to use the tool properly.
  7. I learned that health professionals are the most caring and patient individuals. I watched nursing student Drew calm a child down so he could listen to her heart. I watched nursing student Ciera struggle with sending a patient home in a condition that no clinic in the U.S. would have. I watched respiratory care student Veronica argue with a doctor about a diagnosis that she was ultimately correct on. I watched these amazing people in action, and I respect each and every one of them for what they did in Nicaragua and what they will continue to do for the remainder of their careers.

This Texas State Global News Team took a risk, and it paid off

If you were at the same restaurant as us last night, you probably heard us.

We were the group of women engrossed in candid conversation with little regard to the volume of our voices (weren’t we the only ones there?), and we laughed a lot (per usual). And maybe one of us teared up at one point – the point when she talked about the little boy she’ll never forget. She usually cries when she talks about him. Some of us tease her gently.


The truth is that we all have those moments we’ll never forget.

For me as their faculty leader, this team of six women are my unforgettable moments. Together we created the first Texas State University Global News Team in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and we did something no one else has done before at our university.

When I reflect on my role in this adventure, I’m left with them to thank. The speed at which this endeavor was put together left little time for recruiting. Four of the team members were students I knew from previous courses; two were new to me. For the most part, they were all strangers to each other, but they shared some things in common.

They want to make a difference in this world.

They aren’t afraid of adventure.

They wanted to go with me

… Even when our early conversations went something like this:

Them: “So what are we doing every day while we’re there?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

The truth is that I didn’t know many of the day-to-day details outside of the fact that we were covering the nursing students’ efforts in rural medical clinics, but my lack of information didn’t deter my team. They leapt with me.

There are other moments I won’t forget.

The one when Amanda used rocks from an orphanage playground to build a tripod for her camera so she could catch the best angle to create this video.

The one when Alicia bravely photographed a dying woman and the nursing student who attended her. After, she wrote this story.

The one when Elisha and I were sitting by the pharmacy table, bored, and decided to create a children’s book using cartooned images. Elisha brought that idea to life.

The one when Maggie and Magdalena had the chance to break away from our group and tour one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Managua. Maggie wrote about it and Magdalena created this video.

The one when Mary connected with a young girl named Jennifer and wrote this story about her community.

Together and over the course of eight weeks, the six of them created more than 50 pieces of media content, including:

In addition, they created and maintained A vibrant Facebook page that reached nearly 70,000 people in the two weeks we spent in Nicaragua.

I am proud of their work and proud to have been their leader. I thank all of you for your support. Thank you for following our work and for sharing their stories. I hope that you are as inspired by this team as I am.

Last night might have been the last formal gathering of the founding members of the Texas State Global News Team, but I’m confident in the lasting strength of the friendships that were formed during this project.

Carry on, friends. Go do greater things.


The Innocence of Childhood

My time in Nicaragua would not have been the experience it was without the many children I was privileged to meet. Although the language barrier was hard to overcome, we managed to have an understanding of love that was easy to comprehend.

It was amazing to me how something like a game of tag or soccer could be so universal and bridge so many gaps. The second day of the clinic I had my iPad with me. When we grew tired after several games of tag, I remembered the apps I had on my iPad. From drawing to matching games, we were able to play and communicate past my broken Spanish.

There is a certain beauty in the innocence of children. I have always loved working with kids. I have an admiration for how free they are; that is a feeling that I would like to be able to carry with me into my adulthood.

When one of the children asked one us about a past visitor they had in their community, my heart was heavy. I can’t even express the feeling. I was hurt. It hurt me to think about the fact that a few years from now to many of us this will have been a resume-building experience and we will have moved on with our every-day lives. However in a few years in their lives, they very well will still remember us by name. So many little moments in life that we tend to take for granted are key moments in another’s.

I met a young boy, Nelson, who dreams of being an artist. The drawing app on my iPad was amazing to him. He was so proud to show me the many things he was able to recreate. They had a sense of pride in everything they were able to share with us.

I befriended 11-year-old Danna Jael on the first day in the community of Campuzano. She noticed my interest in the animals in the community and began to show me more. She stayed with me thought home visits that day, and visited our clinics each day we were there.

When it was Danna’s turn to use my iPad, she began drawings of me. I was touched by what she ended up creating. It was eye opening to see what she saw in me. One thing remained consistent: in each picture, there was a smile. She then looked to me and asked, “nombre complete” asking for my full name. When I looked down to my iPad to write my name, the many pictures she had drawn overwhelmed my spirit with a feeling that I will never forget. “Maria y Danna amigas por siempre: Mary and Danna friends forever.”

I know that the days I spent in the community with these kids will leave an impact of them and be a memory they never forget. I can only hope to carry the spirit and love from the kids with me in my future.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou