Inspired to serve, the compassionate nursing students at Marian University go above and beyond classroom training to better serve our community.
Nurses in the community and around the world are known for their compassionate hearts and commitment to helping and healing others; however, for several student nurses at Marian University, this passion for helping others went above and beyond the classroom to serve our community's veterans.
It was in professor Christine Laurent's research class that the topic of veterans - and service-learning - came together.
"Nursing and service-learning go hand in hand, and the students really took an active role in seeing what they could do, aside from just physical healing," said Laurent. "Today it's common to see our veterans in our local hospitals, and our future nurses are in need of training in how to better serve their potential patients - both in the medical facilities and in the community."
Storytelling inspires Veterans Day
Sarah Rawlsky '14 was one of the students who took on a service-learning project that aided veterans and honored their service.
Because the course was offered during the fall 2012 semester, Rawlsky took advantage of the Veterans Day celebrations at the facility, and began working with management to help organize a special event for their annual Veterans Day celebration. Within the facility, Rawlsky found 25 veterans who were willing to talk with her, as she began creating a video and photography presentation that featured the stories of each vet and photographs of them in the past and present.
"The residents were interested in the project and shared some pretty interesting stories," said Laurent. "Some shared about the friends that they met and others shared about the branch they were in and where they had served, though all spoke about missing their families and homes in America."
The individuals incorporated into the video footage viewed Sarah's work on Veterans Day 2012, and truly enjoyed sharing stories and commemorating the day.
Resources for Women Veterans
For Krystle Topp '14, her research and service-learning project took the form of a donation drive. Although donation drives are not new to the community, Topp's drive targeted items that were geared to assist a specific division of veterans: women.
"Krystle jumped in feet first with her project, and contacted the Milwaukee VA hospital," said Laurent. "There was a great need for clothing and supplies for female veterans, a significantly underrepresented section of returning veterans, especially as the VA hospital is typically set up for men."
As female veterans return home, they are in dire need of assistance, with many suffering from homelessness. In order to correct this growing problem, Topp worked to generate donations of gently-used professional clothing for use at interviews, as well as personal and feminine hygiene products.
"At first, it was a local, Marian-centered drive," said Laurent. "However, Krystle's passion for serving our veterans, with the help of her classmates, overflowed into a community-wide effort, and resulted in a very generous collection."
Following the drive, Topp collected enough clothing and personal hygiene products to fill two, fifteen-passenger vans, which she and Laurent delivered to the Milwaukee VA hospital where it was well-received.
"As the waves of veterans return, these students understand the trials that veterans have endured and can use their passion for nursing to inspire change," said Laurent. "Whether in the nursing field or just an active community member, we can all work together to help veterans in our community and be compassionate toward the dedication and service that they have given to our country."