Category Archives: Profile Stories

Finding the right fit in respiratory therapy

By Katie Burrell

A powerhouse in the ICU and a loving sister, daughter and friend, Stephanie Kelley can be found finding herself through helping heal others.

Kelley grew up in Round Rock, Texas, a town two hours away from her university, Texas State. She spent her adolescent days pounding her feet to the rubber track of Cedar Ridge High School and fighting with her older brother. The youngest of three, Kelley has grown up surrounded by love and family. This can be seen through her ability to take a joke, tease a friend and sing-a-long to a song on a bus full of people.

When Kelley landed in Guyana on Jan. 2, her step onto the tarmac was just another step toward the career of helping others she always wanted. However, respiratory therapy and Kelley did not cross paths until she was midway through college.

Kelly spent her first two years of college at Austin Community College. There she finished her basic courses including those in science and math. Science had always been her favorite, since her biology class her junior year of high school. Her plan was to be a radiation therapist, she had passed her classes and set her mind to it, until she met with an ACC advisor.

The advisor told Kelley she was made to work in the medical field, but she would not advise radiation therapy. Kelley’s grade in chemistry, after retaking the class was fine, but the advisor told Kelley she would be hard-pressed to find a radiation program open to accepting that she retook a class.

This news was a shock to Kelley, but mostly because it was a shock to her plan. She worked hard, got the grades and was content with where she would be the next two years. This news flipped Kelley’s plan upside down.

As usual, Kelley’s family was supportive and offered her advice, but she was worried she would disappoint herself most so she sought out other options. Kelley eventually decided to call her aunt in Houston, who works in a hospital as a respiratory therapist, aiding patients, nurses and doctors in all sorts of conditions.

Kelley decided to give it a go. She wanted to help people, and feel accomplished. She transferred to Texas State.

Stephanie Kelley bags a patient, allowing him to breath while the hospital was without oxygen for six minutes. Photo By Katie Burrell.

At Texas State, Kelley has spent over 600 hours in hospitals and classrooms learning how to help patients breathe, recover from surgery and survive all sorts of conditions.

“My own goals push me through,” Kelley said. “Of course my parents are always saying they’re proud of me, but they aren’t overbearing. I push myself the most.”

In Guyana, Kelley spent her days working in the Intensive Care Unit at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation. Competent, level headed and organized, Kelley made her rounds, bagged patients and worked with doctors and nurses all on her own.

While working in the ICU in Georgetown, Kelley was faced with a moment where lives depended on her. Oxygen in the hospital went down for six minutes and nine seconds. Kelley had to help her patients breathe and delegated to the nurses to help. The hospital staff had no idea the incident would happen, but Kelley stayed cool and allowed the man, lying on the hospital bed in front of her to breathe and live on to continue his treatment.

Kelley was taught by Sharon Armstead, director of clinical education and clinical assistant professor of respiratory therapy at Texas State. Armstead said Kelley is independent and wise, which can be confirmed watching her control a patient’s room in the ICU. Armstead watched Kelley provide life-saving care in Guyana when a hospital’s oxygen went out.

“She’s the delegator,” Armstead said. “She has a lot of energy. I think one of the things about Stephanie is that she doesn’t know her own potential. When she was in the ICU she controlled the room. I don’t think she thinks that is a big deal, she just does it.”

Before the trip, Kelley organized fundraising, T-shirt design and scheduling for her team. Kelley was calm, and mild mannered every step of the way from making sure patients could breathe, to asthma testing weary high school students and organizing a day of fun for children in an orphanage.

Amber Hazelett, Texas State alumnus and registered respiratory therapist was on the trip and worked with Kelley in the emergency in Guyana.

“I met Stephanie about a month before the trip,” Hazelett said. “My first impression of her was that she was a bubbly and talkative person. On the trip, she was actually eager to work in the ER.”

Kelley graduates this spring with the goal to work in Austin, Texas, as a registered respiratory therapist specializing in pediatric care.


Texas State University professor brings respiratory therapy students, donations to Guyana

By Skyler Jennings

SAN MARCOS, TX – Texas State University clinical associate professor Sharon Armstead took respiratory therapy students, knowledge and donations to Guyana in January 2018 on a study abroad program.

Armstead, the director of clinical education in the respiratory department at Texas State, was born in Guyana. She lived there off and on until she was about 15 years old when her family moved to Canada permanently. She did not return to Guyana until September 2015 on a medical mission trip with Bridges Global Medical Missions.

It was on her second mission trip there, in May 2016, that she decided to create the study abroad program; it was the respiratory department’s first independent study abroad program. She said she saw an issue with respiratory care in Guyana and knew she needed to bring students because one respiratory therapist, herself, wasn’t going to be enough.

Sharon Armstead (left) assisted Jennifer Cruz (right) while Cruz bagged a patient in Georgetown Public Hospital. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

“I’ve gone to Guyana. They don’t have [respiratory therapists],” said Armstead. “I saw the need for respiratory care, especially in Guyana, because when I worked in the [emergency room] I’d see many patients come in and they’d say they have wheezing, but they would never call it asthma.”

The reason, Armstead said, is because the country doesn’t have the tools necessary to diagnose it on a large scale. She said that Georgetown Public Hospital in Georgetown, Guyana, has an asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease clinic, but that it only has two spirometers. Spirometers are an instrument used to measure the capacity of the lungs.

When she received a $11,530 grant from the CHEST Foundation, Armstead knew she wanted to use it to help provide the country with the tools to test for asthma and COPD nationwide.

“For them to go out in the field…and try and do diagnoses, they would have to take their equipment out of the hospital,” said Armstead. “We were able to purchase two [mobile] spirometry units, so that now let’s say they want to go out into the interior of Guyana, they could take one of those mobile units with them and do spirometry testing.”

Her team of five respiratory therapy students from Texas State University left Jan. 2, 2018 for Guyana. Also on the team was a former student, who is now a registered respiratory therapist, to act as her assistant.

The students worked in two hospitals while in Guyana: Georgetown Public Hospital and Linden Hospital Complex. They worked in the intensive care unit checking ventilators, doing assessments and giving respiratory therapy education to nurses. They also worked in the emergency room.

Sharon Armstead (right) educated nursing students on respiratory therapy at Georgetown Public Hospital. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

“They participated in multidisciplinary rounds. They did oral care. They kind of did some graphic analysis on the ventilators,” said Armstead. “We basically did what we would do here (in the United States.)”

Claudette Heyliger-Thomas, the medical director for Bridges Global Medical Missions and a pediatrician in Atlanta, said she knows how important respiratory therapy is in a hospital and agrees with Armstead’s mission to bring it to Guyana.

“When I have to go for a regular delivery, I am always concerned that something unusual is going to happen. When I see a respiratory therapist present, boy my blood pressure goes down and my heart rate goes down,” said Heyliger-Thomas. “If that baby decides to turn colors, I know there’s somebody there that’s going to intubate. If the mother needs care, the respiratory therapist is there.”

Heyliger-Thomas said she’s known Armstead for about 40 years. They met through Heyliger-Thomas’ husband, who went to elementary school with Armstead in Guyana. She said she admires Armstead’s passion for respiratory therapy.

“I like Sharon because she cares. She truly, truly cares,” said Heyliger-Thomas. “If it means that she’s going to spend 24/7 just to make sure an issue that she sees is taken care of, she’s going to do it. She’s got what I call ‘Stick to It-ness.’”

Xiomara Ojeda, one of the students who went to Guyana with Armstead, shared a similar sentiment. Ojeda has known Armstead for two years and said she loves learning from her.

“She just has a lot of passion for what she does, and it’s contagious,” said Ojeda. “She loves helping people and she’s really good at it. You want to learn from her because she just knows so much and she just loves it.”

Texas State University lecturer Holly Wise brought the Texas State Global News Team, comprised of five mass communication students, to document Armstead and her students’ work in Guyana. The two first met in 2017 on a similar study abroad program to Nicaragua. Wise said Armstead shared her vision to bring the program to Guyana.

“She is consistent with her goals, and she’s very stubborn and relentless in bringing those goals to life,” said Wise. “I really respect that and admire that a lot.”

Wise, who knows how much Guyana means to Armstead, said seeing her in Guyana after a year and a half of talking about it was a gift. She said a special moment was seeing Armstead speak to students at Mackenzie High School, where Armstead’s dad used to be the principal.

Sharon Armstead (right) gave a speech at Mackenzie High School, where he dad used to be principal. Behind her are her respiratory therapy students. From left to right: Amber Hazlett, Jennifer Cruz, Stephanie Kelley, Xiomara Ojeda, Jacki Brewer and Bobby Shane Rodgers. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

“That was very emotional because I was up on stage, and I thought, ‘I left here as a student. Now I’m back, as a professor, with my own students.’ I just couldn’t place it,” Armstead said.

She said she called her parents, who still live in Canada, while she was in Guyana to tell them about the trip.

“What’s emotional is, every time I call them, you can hear the regret that they can’t come home because of health,” said Armstead. “[Daddy] knew I was going to be in Guyana that weekend, and he was waiting by the phone with a nurse so he could make sure he got the phone call.”

Armstead, who plans to go back to Guyana in May or June for another mission trip, said, “I make it a point to go back every year.”

Texas State University student first in family to graduate from college

By Skyler Jennings

SAN MARCOS, TX – Texas State University senior Xiomara Ojeda, a first-generation American who will be the first in her family to graduate college, has wanted to work in healthcare her entire life.

Xiomara Ojeda, from Austin, originally chose to attend Texas State for its nursing program. Once there, she discovered its respiratory care program and decided to change her career path.

In January 2018, Xiomara Ojeda took her knowledge and passion for respiratory therapy to Guyana on a study abroad program. Sharon Armstead, clinical associate professor at Texas State, led the program in conjunction with Bridges Global Medical Missions. It was the university’s first respiratory care study abroad program.

Xiomara Ojeda prepares to suction secretions from a patient’s airway in Georgetown Public Hospital. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

While there, she worked in Georgetown Public Hospital and the Linden Hospital Complex alongside doctors and nurses. She and four other Texas State respiratory care students assisted when needed, educated staff on respiratory therapy and learned what it was like to work in another country.

“[Guyana is] so different but I feel like we just have more things to get our people healthier,” said Xiomara Ojeda. “I’m more grateful for the things that we have [here]. Things that we took for granted. It opened my eyes that we’re very lucky here.”

When working alongside Cuban doctors in Guyana, Xiomara Ojeda sometimes spoke with them in Spanish, her first language. She said it’s not new for her to speak Spanish while working. When she’s working in Austin, she said she will often talk with patients in Spanish so they feel more comfortable.

She learned Spanish at home from her parents who emigrated from El Salvador and Mexico. Xiomara Ojeda said they also taught her to work hard for what she wants.

“My parents always told us, ‘You have to work hard and get an education so you don’t do hard labor like [we’ve] had to,’” said Xiomara Ojeda. “They’ve always said, ‘Go to school, get a degree, do something that you love and you don’t work a day in your life.’ I’ve always wanted to make them proud.”

Xiomara Ojeda educates nursing students at Georgetown Public Hospital on how to use an Aerobika OPEP Device. The device helps clear mucus from airways. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

Xiomara Ojeda’s interest in healthcare started as a child, because she frequented hospitals.

“I was actually born with spina bifida so I had to go to doctor appointments every year,” said Xiomara Ojeda. “I had to go to the hospital and get regular checkups. I would get ultrasounds and X-rays and stuff like that on my back. I grew up around [healthcare]. I fell in love with medicine. I wasn’t scared of it; it didn’t freak me out.”

Ramon Ojeda, Xiomara Ojeda’s younger brother, said he had first-hand experience of her natural pull to healthcare when they were kids. Xiomara Ojeda, 10, nursed Ramon Ojeda, 6, back to health after a hot iron fell on Ramon Ojeda’s head.

“It was on the weekend and both my parents were gone,” said Ramon Ojeda. “I was screaming, and the first thing I remember is my sister [putting] me on a bed. My head was bleeding and she put towels on my head. It was in her nature to take care of people.”

Xiomara Ojeda used supplies she knew were in the house because her mom had worked in the emergency room, transporting patients to different floors.

“My mom used to work at a hospital, and she had a bunch of gauze and medical stuff,” said Xiomara Ojeda. “I started taking the gauze and antibiotics and stuff like that [for Ramon’s head]. I wasn’t scared to deal with blood. I’ve never been scared to deal with blood.”

This spring, Xiomara Ojeda will graduate from Texas State University with a degree in respiratory care. She will be the first in her family to earn a degree, and has been on the dean’s list six semesters.

Xiomara Ojeda uses her stethoscope to check if a patient has any secretions, and discovers he has a lot. Photo by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

Sharon Armstead, the director of clinical education at Texas State University, lead the team of respiratory care students in Guyana. Armstead said she’s proud of Xiomara Ojeda’s success.

“Xiomara overcame many odds to be where she is today,” said Armstead. “If you know spina bifida…the fact that she’s overcome that, to graduate, to do all of this on her own and she’s a woman…I think that speaks volumes to her strength of character.”

Ramon Ojeda, a freshman at Texas State University, said seeing his sister on the path to graduate college is a driving factor for himself. He said he remembers Xiomara Ojeda’s first semester of college didn’t go as she planned, but she came out on top.

“She was about to give up and then she got her stuff together,” said Ramon Ojeda. “She showed me what she did…all of this stuff about how to improve. It’s definitely something that helps me; it’s helping me now.”

Xiomara Ojeda is finishing up her last semester of college while working in the adult intensive care unit at Dell Seton Medical Center in Austin. After she graduates and passes her board examination, she will be a registered respiratory therapist. She said she isn’t certain where she’ll end up working.

“I really wanted to do adult [care] for a really long time, but I did my internship at Dell Children’s [in Austin] and I just fell in love with working with kids,” said Xiomara Ojeda. “I don’t know if that’s what I want to do, but I’m really highly considering that that’s what I want to do. I really loved working with kids.”

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.

Meet the respiratory therapy students that became the educators

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By: Taeler Kallmerten

Bubbly, free-spirited and stubborn are three words to describe the women of the respiratory therapy team from Texas State University.

Two respiratory therapy students, accompanied by their faculty, were a part of Texas State University’s first inter-professional study abroad program in Nicaragua.

Initially, the respiratory therapy team was not going, but clinical assistant professor Sharon Armstead and her two senior students Veronica Richardson and Amber Hazelett readily accepted the invitation from the trip’s lead faculty member, Marylyn Kajs-Wyllie. 

There are few countries that have a specialized role for respiratory care and Nicaragua is not one of them. Like the majority of the world, Nicaragua’s respiratory care is practiced by standard physicians and nurses.

This was a challenge for Armstead, Richardson and Hazelett. Instead of spending most of their time in the community clinics, Armstead and her team focused on giving seminars about respiratory care in local public hospitals.

As Armstead set up her MacBook to give a seminar, 12 nurses wearing white uniforms sat watching intently. The seminar took place in the cafeteria of the hospital and many employees passing by joined the lecture as they ate their breakfast. Richardson and Hazelett passed out brochures amongst the nurses, so they could follow along in the demonstration.

“I love to educate as I go,” said Armstead. “Not only do we learn from the community, but they learn from what we offer in education.” 

Through one seminar Armstead said she completely changed the way one hospital gave a nebulizer treatment.

“They were giving the nebulizer treatment without a mask or a mouth piece and the neb was just going out into the air,” said Armstead. “Until we showed them the proper way to use a nebulizer, they did not know.”

After educating healthcare providers in the hospital for two days, Armstead said it is important to recognize the hospitals are not wrong in their methods of respiratory care, but they are just different. 

Nicaragua respiratory isuues
Infographic of respiratory issues in Nicaragua. Graphic by Monica Grice.  

The work is personal

The irony of the respiratory therapy team is that all three women have asthma themselves.

Hazelett, a respiratory therapy major, said her asthma gives her the ability to empathize with her patients because she knows their pain firsthand.

“Growing up sometimes people would tell me, ‘there’s not actually something wrong with you,’ or ‘no, you can breathe just relax,’” said Hazelett. “I know that these people really cannot breathe.”

Hazelett said she understands that those who do not have asthma sometimes think asthmatics are making up their medical condition.

“Just because it can’t be seen on the outside doesn’t mean it’s not going on on the inside,” she said.

The first day outside of the hotel in Nicaragua required long hikes to get from home to home and Richardson constantly checked on Armstead’s breathing and reminded her to use her inhaler.

The family dynamic of taking care of each other was the anchor that held the respiratory therapy team together.

Richardson said having Armstead as a professor has made her more confident in her abilities as a respiratory therapist.

Richardson said she had an intense discussion with a doctor in Nicaragua about whether a patient’s lung problems were asthma related.

“I did a full chest assessment and I was right that there was something wrong with the patient’s lungs,” said Richardson. “In my mind, there was that split moment where I thought what if I’m wrong; then my confidence came back and I was like I know I’m right.”

As Richardson explained how Armstead’s teaching has impacted her, Armstead, who was sitting next to her, began crying, but with a smile on her face.

“I wanted them to see that in these countries, they don’t have RT, but what we can do is to promote our profession and to educate,” said Armstead.

Richardson and Hazelett will graduate in May. While Richardson has just finished her internship in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. David’s North, Hazelett has begun her night shifts at her internship. Richardson plans to eventually practice respiratory therapy abroad and Hazelett plans to get her masters degree and eventually teach at her alma mater, Texas State University. 

Journalism in the Jungle

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.