UMSN Student Uses Time Off to Make a Difference

“In nursing school, the more you learn, the more you feel like you need to help someone else.”

<--break->“It’s something I always felt like I needed to do,” University of Michigan School of Nursing Magdalene Kuznia with Melanie Askari(UMSN) student Magdalene Kuznia says of her volunteer work. The sophomore recently participated in an alternative spring break in South America.

The University of Michigan chapter of MEDlife (Medicine, Education and Development for Low Income Families Everywhere), an organization that works to advance the lives of impoverished people by improving their access to healthcare, sent about 20 U-M students to Peru for a volunteer trip. Kuznia and the other volunteers spent several days helping to build large staircases in the hillsides to make it easier for community members to access resources, namely clean water.

The students also spent several days working in a mobile clinic with nurses, doctors, and dentists. Kuznia said she was struck by the needs of some of the women who had infections and poor dental hygiene that could have been easily managed in the United States.  “Mothers put their children first, but this was their opportunity to come in and receive care for themselves,” she said.

The trip to Peru reinforced Kuznia’s belief that volunteer work is a significant part of her purpose. She’s considering the Peace Corps after graduation, and this summer she has a five-week trip planned to Salokaya College of Nursing in New Delhi. “India is becoming new Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of AIDS,” says Kuznia. During her trip, she’ll work on research project focused on HIV prevention and education for high-risk populations. Kuznia received a fellowship from the U-M Center for South Asian Studies to make the trip possible.Magdalene Kuznia

“Magdalene really worked hard on that fellowship application, and it has paid off,” says UMSN Director of Global and Community Outreach Leslie Davis, Ph.D. “There are many international opportunities still available this summer for our students and we will work with them to find something that fits their areas of interest.”

The trips represent a lifelong dream for Kuznia. “I always wanted to travel and do volunteer work. My family never went on big trips, because my parents were saving money to send me to U-M so I could be at a place with these incredible opportunities. It makes me appreciate everything so much more.”