Two nursing students in the ASU Honors Program. Two very different backgrounds. Two incredibly fulfilling summer study abroad experiences.
Junior Katherine Bautista was born and raised in the Philippines until she moved at 10 years old when her mom got a nursing job in Tennessee. They later moved to Brownwood, where they have lived for the last seven years. She wants to be a medical missionary.
Senior Nadia Rodriguez is a native small-town Texan born and raised in Brackettville, and she is a first-generation student. She wants to be a nurse educator and, eventually, a nurse practitioner here in Texas.
But despite their differences, both are interested in caring for women and infants, and both picked the summer of 2017 to take the trip of a lifetime through the Honors Program. Bautista spent eight weeks on a medical mission trip to the Mercy Maternity Center in Davao City, Philippines.
“I held and loved plenty of precious babies,” Bautista said. “My team served with the staff on all the shifts, and we learned on the job. We provided care for all the women there, including prenatal care, vaccinations and postnatal care. We also got to observe and participate in the births, and I actually delivered my first baby on my last day there.”
“The most exciting part of my summer was definitely delivering a baby,” she added. “It was a heart-warming and life-changing experience to be able to serve all the women and babies. We provided physical, emotional and spiritual care.”
Meanwhile, Rodriguez had originally hoped to study in Mexico, but ended up in Cordoba, Argentina, where she completed a four-week internship at the Hospital Universitario de Maternidad y Neonatologia.
“I was placed with the medical residents to shadow them,” Rodriguez said. “In the mornings, we would do prenatal consultations, and then we would take lab specimens, which I was able to do. A lot of my role was taking specimens and vital signs, and I was able to observe births and caring for post-partem mothers.”
“Argentina was familiar enough so I could communicate, but definitely a different culture,” she added. “So I think it turned out better than if I had just visited Mexico like I had planned. I’m really thankful for the opportunity.”
Already comfortable with the Philippine culture, Bautista was content to stay in student housing during her trip. But Rodriguez had a much different experience in Argentina, living with a host mom, Isabel, and her two small children.
“More than just seeing the culture, I was able to learn more about it,” Rodriguez said. “Isabel explained every kind of food and why they made it. There were also some holidays that happened while I was there. So it was nice to not only be able to see what was going on, but also have everything explained to me.”
“I’d never been away from home except for coming to ASU,” she added. “I was homesick for a little bit, but it got better. One thing I learned is that the Argentinians are a very nice people. I loved it.”
“These types of experiences are something that typical ASU students couldn’t afford on their own. Yet because of the Alvin New Family funding, they are able to take advantage of these life-altering experiences.”
Both Bautista and Rodriguez also made sure they got out and about on the weekends.
“We had half of Saturday off and all of Sunday,” Bautista said. “We went to the Eden Nature Park where we went zip-lining and horseback riding. We also went island-hopping to different beaches around the island we were staying on.”
“I’m ecstatic that I went,” she added. “It gave me a vision of what my future holds for me and that I do want to be a medical missionary, long term.”
“My host mom was from Villa Carlos Paz,” Rodriguez said, “which is known for the Black Lake, and we walked around the lake and shops. We also went to Villa Belgrano, which is a German-inspired town. It was completely different than the rest of Argentina.”
“Plus, Cordoba is a big city,” she added. “I was able to take tango classes. We did different traditional food tastings and we went to an artisanal fair. We did a lot of things to just get a better knowledge of their culture.”
Now back at ASU, the dynamic duo is continuing to work toward their respective goals. Rodriguez will graduate in December, while Bautista will follow in December 2018. But both are already nurses without borders.