Posted: 3/13/12

Pennsylvania Nursing Students Visit TAMIU,
Learn Differing Community Challenges

Nursing Visitors
Spring Break at TAMIU
Neumann University nursing students from Pennsylvania visited Laredo and Texas A&M International University as part of their clinicalobservation. Pictured from left to right are
Vince Cucunato, Heather O’Donnell, Caitlin Lotty, Teresa Rush, and Katie Schneckerburger.

This week, a group of five Aston, PA., nursing students and a faculty member visited Texas A&M International University as well as various clinics and non-profit organizations in Laredo as part of their clinical observation.

The senior nursing students, part of a collaborative program with TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Neumann University, toured Mercy Health Ministries, the City of Laredo Health Department, Sacred Heart Children’s Home and Bethany House.

During their visit, which also included a tour of the colonias, students also had the opportunity serve meals to the homeless at Bethany House and tutor children at Sacred Heart.

“The purpose of the trip is to provide the nursing students with an international experience on a national level,” said Belva González, TAMIU assistant professor of nursing.

“In the fall, a group of students from Laredo taking community health nursing at TAMIU will travel to Neumann University.”

This is the third group of Neumann University nursing students to visit Laredo on their Spring Break, said González.

“This is an opportunity for the students to learn about other cultures and health issues that face different parts of the United States,” González said. “They observe some of the health challenges that we have here in Laredo that they wouldn’t have in Pennsylvania and some of the challenges we share.”

Vince Cucunato, one of the students, said visiting the colonias was an eye-opening experience for him as he saw residents living without running water in their homes.

“It was a learning experience to go out there with the Mercy Health Ministries van and inform the community about positive health habits and how they can benefit from adopting these, even though they are in an impoverished situation,” he said.

Another student, Heather O’Donnell, said she was amazed to be within minutes of México and to see the amount of traffic that crosses between the U.S.-México border daily.

“I was shocked to see how the atmosphere changes between the north and south sides of Laredo,” she said, “I also enjoyed the weather.”

Teresa Rush, another visitor, said she had an opportunity to see how the face of poverty differs between her community and Laredo.

“Where I am from, poverty is hidden from general view, in the form of projects and government housing,” Rush said, “In the projects, they at least have running water, but in the colonias, people don’t.”

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 such as 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 326.2452, e-mail bgonzalez@tamiu.edu or visit offices located in Dr. F.M. Canseco Hall 111B.

For more information on Neumann University, go to neumann.edu

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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