Visiting Nursing Students Skip Beach for Spring Break in Laredo Learning
Posted: 3/10/11

Visiting Nursing Students Skip
Beach for Learning in Laredo

They could be on a beach. There could be a specialty drink nearby. But for this Spring Break, a group of Aston, Pennsylvania nursing students are in a clinic, walking the streets of a colonia and learning about the challenges of life on the U.S./Mexico border.

The six Neumann University students are part of a collaborative program with Texas A&M International University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Now in its third offering, the program offers an exchange service learning opportunity on each campus. Last Spring, TAMIU students visited their counterparts at Neumann who had initiated the program here. This Spring, TAMIU students are hosting a new group of Neumann students.

nursing students visit from Newmann University
Studying Laredo for Spring Break
Neumann University nursing students are visiting Laredo and Texas A&M International University's College of Nursing and Health Sciences as part of a spring break learning exchange. Left, front to back are: Kristin Prantner, Ann Marie Lenoir, Kate Stoughton. Right, front to back, Joanne Cox, Meg Greene and Barbara Messaros.

TAMIU assistant professor of Nursing Belva González said the Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing was eager to showcase the University and Laredo’s unique study opportunities.

“Here at the University, we employ a transcultural model of nursing that encourages strong community sensitivity in providing healthcare. We think these approaches make for a fascinating learning opportunity,” González said.

The visitors said they’ve been impressed with Laredo’s diversity and believe that their study opportunities here will have relevance when they return to their home campus and careers.

Senior nursing student Joanne Cox said she was intrigued from their arrival Sunday.

“We went to a church jamaica, saw folklórico dancers and ate Mexican food… I wish that I had these beautiful traditions and I didn’t want to leave. Everyone was so warm and welcoming,” Cox noted.

Fellow student Kristin Prantner said she had a chance to practice her Spanish and was delighted to see that her effort was well-received. “I thought I had mispronounced ‘gracias,’ but from the reaction, I think I did well.” Fellow student Kate Stoughton concurred, noting, “I could see that speaking two languages is awesome.”

The students’ week-long visit here is about more than cultural opportunities, however.

They will be rotating through various clinical experiences at the Mercy Clinic in South Laredo and finding out about the Clinic’s innovative use of community-based promotoras to share important health information. They will also visit the City health department. Gateway Clinic and have a trip planned to a colonia south of Laredo lead by Sister Rosemary Welsh, RSM of Mercy Clinic.

Student Barbara Messaros said she believes that her study trip to Laredo will have special relevance for her community outreach work at home.

“I work with the predominantly Amish community in Lancaster and I am interested in the outreach efforts here. I believe there may be some opportunities for me to apply my experiences here there,” she said.

All six agreed that they would cherish the experience and their short time here.

“Everyone has just been so kind and welcoming, the hospitality has been great,” said student Meg Greene, “And the weather has just been terrific compared to the cold and snow we left in Pennsylvania,” she noted.

Neumann University is a small Catholic institution in Aston, Penn., close to Philadelphia. Its programs offer a Catholic education in the Franciscan tradition. Service learning opportunities like the exchange program with TAMIU are part of Neumann’s service learning vision that identifies knowledge as “a gift to be shared in the service of others.”

For more information, contact González at TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing , 956.326.2452, e-mail bgonzalez@tamiu.edu, visit offices in Canseco Hall, room 111 or click on tamiu.edu

For more on Neumann University, go to neumann.edu

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu