I had the opportunity to attend a reception for Sarah Joy Carlson Hollingsworth on October 1, 2010.  Sarah, a 2005 graduate of the Connell School of Nursing, was on campus to receive the Boston College Alumni Gold Award of Excellence for her outstanding service to others. During the reception, Sarah talked about how being a nurse has affected her life. She also gave words of encouragement to all the students who aspire to be nurses. Before the conference started, Sarah introduced herself personally to me. By talking to her and hearing her converse with others I could tell that she was enthusiastic to be back at Boston College after five years. Sarah was one of six to be chosen to work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a postgraduate program, where she worked in the emergency room (ER). After working in the ER for some time, she participated in a service trip to Liberia. Then, she went to John Hopkins and received a master’s in public health.

The main focus of Sarah’s presentation was her service trip to Liberia. The trip occurred six years post war and the country was still facing many social problems. Sarah worked with the Ministry of Health to help the clinics reorganize. One interesting story was about how women in Liberia give their babies water mixed with hot peppers because they believed it will prevent malaria. It was interesting to hear about different cultural practices related to health and how difficult it can be to advocate for change. One of the challenges is to convince others that alternative health remedies can be effective without disrespecting their culture.

Sarah’s presentation provided me with a new understanding about nursing, leadership, community health, and diversity. In order to be a nurse you have to be compassionate and caring. You also have to be mindful of others’ health beliefs and practices. Moreover, it is important to acquire leadership skills and take initiative in the world.

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