As this year’s 50-plus member team packed their bags to travel to the Dominican Republic for the annual service learning mission trip, March 4 to 9, they were taking with them two College of Saint Elizabeth (CSE) students who were attending as the result of a generous grant from Bon Secours Health System’s Global Health Ministries. Ariana Vizhnay ‘12 and Alba Martinez ‘12 are the first students in the mission trip’s six-year history to receive scholarships.
Allied health major and scholarship recipient, Vizhnay, is a prime example of students making a difference. Vizhnay has never participated in a Dominican Republic service trip and as one of the few Spanish speakers on the trip she is an asset in overcoming the communication barrier. She was delighted to have the opportunity to assist. “My hopes and goals for the mission trip are to be able to teach the Dominican community about health awareness and methods they could use to improve their levels of health,” says Vizhnay.
In the past, CSE’s nursing and counseling psychology programs, in partnership with UMDNJ nurses, set out for a week. This year’s trip was organized by CSE nursing professor Dr. Eileen Specchio, who has been involved with these trips as a labor of love for several years. Dr. Thomas Barrett, chair of the CSE psychology program, and Paula A. Lefever, CSE nursing professor, accompanied the team.
Scholarship Provider Dedicated to Serving the Economically Disadvantaged
Bon Secours Health System’s Global Health Ministries mission is to empower growing global awareness of the health care needs of people living in poverty. Dr. Barrett comments, “The mission trip is a wonderful opportunity to meet the Dominican people and provide a service to them while at the same time giving students new learning experiences that they can incorporate in their fields when they return.”
According to Dr. Barrett, “The Dominican Republic service trip is a learning experience for everyone, especially the students. Being a part of the trip is an opportunity to make a difference in the world just by helping with medical and psychological care.”
CSE Team Got Busy Setting Up Clinics
This year, a mission team of students, faculty, and alums set up clinics in Batey, a poor community in the country. The group distributed donated medications including antiparasitics, vitamins, and aspirin that will assist more than 1,000 patients. Not only is physical care a part of the mission trip, but the psychology program conducts counseling workshops as well. These services focus on domestic violence prevention presentations for the people of the Batey, as well as community leaders and pastors. The trip is continuing the mission of service learning and social justice together with the Foundation for Peace, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to education in the United States and to work with people in materially impoverished areas.