Tag Archives: spiritual

The ways I’ve changed

When I left for my study abroad trip in January, I did not think that I was a journalist. I was afraid that my skills would not stack up against the other students that I was headed there with. I had never been off of my own continent and I was just afraid of being away from the safety and security of my own bubble.

When I left for my study abroad trip, I did not think that I would grow to care so much about the group of people that I was with. Strangers at the start of the year and, now, people that I hope to keep in touch with even after the semester has ended. We learned something from each other, and that is what has changed me.

Skyler, a journalism student, that faced her fears and left her comfort of home just as I did. She is brave and can survive any bug bite that she is faced with (at least with an EpiPen in tow). She showed me that I wasn’t alone in my fear and discomfort and that I would be okay, just like she was.

Alana, a fellow Public Relations major, showed me what it means to truly care about and have a passion for the field that you are going into. She is passionate about museums, latinx history, art and photography. From her, I learned to find something that I love and never stop chasing that.

Katie, the sassiest and most outspoken of the group, is so involved in reporting news and writing the best stories that she can. She taught me what it really means to be a journalist and helped me gain skills that I didn’t know I had–like interviewing, gathering sources and being confident in what you are writing about.

Ashley, the inspiring and resilient nineteen year old, really showed me that even if you have been in the trenches at points in your life, you can rise above and come out on top. We shared our stories of childhood and found many points that we could relate on. She is a strong woman who has set her mind to whatever she wants, and I know that she can achieve her dreams. I wish that I had been more like her when I started off as a student–determined, passionate and hard-working.

Last, but certainly not least, Holly Lynn Wise. The most inspiring woman that I have met in my college career. Holly pushed me and convinced me to go on the study abroad trip two days before the application was due. I learned how to use my writing skills, thanks to her, and for that I am very grateful. Journalism aside, I am now passionate about finding my place in the world and using my skills to add to it. Holly showed me what it means to be career-driven and to take your life and run with it. She is caring, kind, compassionate, and I am excited to watch how the next chapter of her life unfolds. I hope she knows how much she means to me and that I would not trade the experiences that I had because of her for anything.

I will not view my life in the same way I did before I left on my study abroad trip. I have determination and the drive to use my skills and have an effect on the world around me.

Featured photo by Alana Zamora/Global News Team

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Tending to More Than a Physical Illness

By Alicia Vazquez

Michelle Juarez arrived at Hogar San Antonio – a nursing home in Nicaragua – with her fellow classmates of the St. David’s School of Nursing at Texas State University on Jan. 16.

Like the rest, she walked into the infirmary and soon noticed the single patient who lay in a bed. Her name was Petrona and she had been at the nursing home since 2007.

In the two weeks prior to the team’s visit, Petrona’s kidneys had started to fail her. Juarez had been taught that once the kidneys go, everything goes.

Petrona was now in sepsis and had anasarca all over her body. She was in hospice care, but her family didn’t want her to receive any other type of care. The only thing she was getting was normal saline to keep her hydrated. She couldn’t drink anything because of the risk of aspiration pneumonia.

Knowing that Petrona’s mouth was probably dry, Juarez went for a gauze, moistened it with water and swabbed Petrona’s mouth. Another student gave Petrona drops of water.

Petrona’s sounds from her struggle to breathe filled the room. Petrona needed oxygen. She didn’t have it. She needed pain relief. She didn’t have it. She needed someone to hold her hand and comfort her. Petrona would probably pass away in her sleep, so Juarez prayed for her and loved her in every way that she could.

As a senior in her last semester of nursing school, Juarez will soon be in many more situations similar to Petrona’s because she wants to be a critical care nurse. She said that being Petrona’s nurse that morning helped confirm her decision.

“When you’re a student you have no clue as to how you’re going to be as a nurse, you need that confidence, so caring for her honestly made me feel great that I know what I’m doing and that I can handle this,” Juarez said. “My desire to help critical patients is stronger than my desire to go cry in a corner. I don’t do that until later.”

The fast pace of the emergency room and intensive care units give Juarez an adrenaline rush.

“It’s just something about having to learn every day,” Juarez said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen but you’re ready to be there.”

One of Juarez’s reasons for pursuing a nursing career is because her little brother has Down syndrome so she was exposed to the medical environment at a young age.

Juarez will be the first person in her family with a four-year degree and now that she’s about to graduate, her parents, little brother and patients give her the drive she needs to continue.

“Every single patient that I have encountered, I remember their stories. I remember their family. I remember their faces,” Juarez said. “And it’s not easy. It is the hardest thing I have done in my entire life, but it’s definitely worth it. If you ask any of us, we all have patients that have stuck with us already and we’re not even nurses yet.”

At 21 years of age, Juarez is one of the youngest in her nursing class, but that doesn’t stop her from being a leader.

Shawn Boyd, clinical associate professor at Texas State University, said that Juarez has the three skills that professors look for in nursing students: critical reasoning, dexterity and caring. Although the third skill, being caring, can be tough to teach, Boyd said that’s what makes Juarez stand out.

“She looks patients in the eye. She uses touch. She does all those things that might be somewhat uncomfortable for some people. She is an exemplary student,” Boyd said.

Juarez often chooses the most difficult cases to challenge herself. She takes the sickest patients. She takes initiative. She is confident. She doesn’t doubt her nursing abilities. Yet, Juarez is humble and loving toward everyone.

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Juarez walks a woman who turned 110 years old the previous day.

While in Nicaragua, Juarez helped her peers improve their Spanish and even cooked dinner for more than 30 people. She bought snow cones for kids at the San Joaquin community and gave her backpack to an elder at the nursing home after he asked if she could bring him one the next time she visited.

“I don’t have anything to lose by giving someone something that I don’t need,” Juarez said. “The man then said ‘Que Dios te bendiga’ (God bless you). The happiness that I gave him is unmeasurable.”

For Juarez, the best part of her day is talking to her patients.

Boyd saw that eagerness in Juarez and describes her as a patient advocate. Boyd sees Juarez as continuing to do work with people who do not speak English either in Latin America or on the Texas border, contributing for those who are underserved.

Alexandra Orzech, nursing student and fellow classmate, said it’s important to Juarez to protect a patient’s dignity. Juarez is respectful: she explains what she’s going to do before starting. And she is a good listener to her patients.

“I think she’s going to be an awesome nurse. She’s book smart but she’s also personable. When she’s with patients you can tell there’s more than a textbook behind her knowledge,” Orzech said. “She’s very at home at the hospital. You can tell that’s where she’s supposed to be.”

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Juarez plays with a child in a crib during the home visits at the Campuzano community.