On April 12, 2012 I volunteered at the GEAR UP Carnival of Learning event in the Pyne Arts Middle School in Lowell, MA.  Tricia Gordon, the KILN outreach coordinator, and two KILN scholars, Gerome Paradela and Winnie Jean, also participated at this event.   The Carnival of Learning program was a collaboration between the Pyne Arts Middle School and GEAR UP Massachusetts, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.  GEAR UP encourages young people to start thinking about and preparing for college through various measures such as mentoring, counseling, and academic support.  This event was an educational program where seventh graders got a chance to learn about various colleges including Boston College’s (BC) William F. Connell School of Nursing (CSON).   The event targets students from low-income families at an early stage to motivate them to pursue a college education, since many high-achieving students from low income families are less likely to attend college.

Only a few students attending the event demonstrated interest in nursing.  Although this was discouraging at first, it became clear why many of them were not interested in nursing or health care.  The majority of students did not know how to define nursing when asked. Some described nurses as people who “only help the doctors” or “take care of sick people.”  When Tricia explained that nursing is a profession where nurses provide quality care for sick individuals, the students seemed  interested in learning more about nursing.  In order to engage the students, we used hands on activities such as stethoscopes to listen to heart and lung sounds, an automatic blood pressure machine, and ace bandages to practice bandaging limbs.

As a student recruiter, I was in charge of answering questions and sharing my experiences.  The questions asked by the students reminded me of the reasons I chose nursing.  Many of the students wanted to know about my experience as a nursing student at BC . I explained to them that I had planned to go to BC for pre-med; however, I switched to nursing because I wanted a profession that was hands-on and would allow me to work directly with patients.  I wanted the chance to develop a relationship with the people I cared for and to make an impact on patients and their families directly.  I could tell from the comments I received that the students gained a better understanding of what nursing was, what the nursing profession consisted of, and how BC prepared its nursing students.  Overall the Carnival of Learning event was a great opportunity and I was glad I had the opportunity to share my experiences with students who would one day be in my place.