Rebecca Metzler, a graduate of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, found a way to apply her skills on a bigger scale. A former student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, she finds fulfillment in helping those who do not have the same access to health care.
“When I was volunteering at the Maranatha Children’s Centre in Port Elizabeth, I was making a great impact on the children there,” Metzler said. “But when I left, the work I had done did not continue. I wanted to create a sustainable program that will still be there long after I’m gone with the Fulbright Scholarship.”
Metzler discovered how she could help when she attended TTUHSC. She, with the assistance of Susan Calloway, DNP, R.N., drafted a proposal for the Fulbright Program, a scholarship initiative which provides educational research opportunities around the world. A very prestigious program, Metzler was selected as a semifinalist for her proposal to provide mental health services to children with HIV/AIDS in Swaziland.
“I was very impressed with Rebecca,” Calloway said. “She took the initiative to apply to the Fulbright Scholarship all by herself. She found a project she was passionate about, and she just ran with it. She is a compassionate person and an all-around dynamo.”
The proposal would set up Metzler with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) in Swaziland, allowing Metzler to initiate a mental health program there which would then turn to a telehealth initiative coordinated by the TTUHSC School of Nursing, allowing students and faculty to care for children in Swaziland from where they are in Texas. Metzler would implement the program before telehealth was introduced.
“Rebecca was going to be our ‘boots on the ground,’” Calloway said. “We coordinated her accommodations, her sponsorship and how she would instill this program. Swaziland is a country with few resources. I met with the director of BIPAI, and they asked if we had anyone interested in mental health in Swaziland. Helping underserved populations with their mental health issues was exactly what Rebecca is interested in. I urge all nurses interested in public health to seek mentorship at TTUHSC. You’d be amazed at the contacts you can make and the opportunities you will have.”
In her impact statement, Metzler noted that volunteerism is a fulfilling experience, but her concern is not with herself, but with the legacy she leaves behind:
“I had never considered the effects of having transient volunteers stroll into and then out of a child’s life,” Metzler wrote. “The result was an experience that enriched us, but left the children empty-handed. Good intentions were not enough. Maranatha taught me that it is important not simply to act on a compassionate idea, but to analyze what the long-term effects will be on the people you intend to help.”
Metzler, still focused on public and global health, has applied to the Peace Corp, where she can utilize her skills as a nurse to provide assistance in areas in the world lacking in health care.
“Graduating feels good,” Metzler said. “You work for so many years to receive an education which will help others. By the time all of the deadlines and exams are finished, it hardly feels real.”
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