Ashland University Group Spends Spring Break on Missions Trip
While most people think of spring break as a time to get away from school and party, 16 Ashland University students dedicated their spring break to helping others less fortunate than themselves.
A total of 16 Ashland University students, including six from the University’s new Dwight Schar College of Nursing, headed to the tropical island of Eleuthera, Bahamas, not to relax all day but to work on bettering the lives of those there and to grow spiritually.
This is the first medical trip mission that Ashland University has participated in, said Dan Hellinger, visiting professor at Dwight Schar College of Nursing. Hellinger joined with Dr. John Swope, director of the “Religious Life Network” and The Call at Ashland University, in arranging the trip.
The Ashland University students participating in the trip included the six from the Schar College of Nursing -- Justin Taylor of Polk, Ohio; Eric Azbell of Lancaster, Ohio; Whitney Tschanen of Sycamore, Ohio; Michaela Phillians of Caledonia, Ohio; Brooke Stone of Ashland, Ohio; and Ashlee Boes of Upper Sandusky, Ohio – as well as Marcus Demas of Rock Creek, Ohio; Zach Heffner of Kingsville, Ohio; Desirae Kierner of Marysville, Ohio; Lisa Caron of Utica, Ohio; Amanda McKinney of Vermilion, Ohio; Keenan Franley of Jefferson, Ohio; Morgan Briggs of Groveport, Ohio; Miriah Keller of Mansfield, Ohio; Megan Liggett of Chardon, Ohio; and Rachel Graves of Hilliard, Ohio.
Ashland University took over operation of the MedCentral College of Nursing in August of 2010 and this acquisition has allowed College of Nursing students the opportunity to witness health care delivery systems and humanitarian works in other countries, Hellinger said.
Hellinger said there were three major goals of this trip: 1) to build a spiritual relationship with God and to build relationships with others; 2) to share faith and talents with those less fortunate or that may need a helping hand to improve their living conditions; 3) to experience culture, health care and living conditions in a third world country.
The students worked with Bahamas Methodist Habitat, based at Camp Symonette in James Cistern on the island of Eleuthera. Bahamas Methodist Habitat has been working since 1992 to improve the lives of those on the island by repairing homes damaged by hurricanes and upgrading substandard housing, Swope said.
During their time in the Bahamas, the students painted, repaired a roof and worked on fixing a Quadraplex for senior citizens that was in need of repair. The students also helped to remodel a previously condemned clinic in James Cistern.
In addition, the nursing students completed health assessments, reported their findings and dispensed medications among other responsibilities. This opportunity allowed the students to see nursing practices in the Bahamas and the resources with which the nurses have to work.
“Each settlement received a visit once a week from a physician,” Hellinger said, “Our nursing students were able to witness first hand a broader scope of practice for nurses in a country where the physician is not always present.”
Even with both medical and non-medical students on the trip, both groups bonded and quickly developed into a single group, Swope said.
“John and I both wanted the students to have the opportunity to build friendships with each other since this was a new experience for both campuses to unite as one,” Hellinger said, “This bonding occurred and allowed the students to share their faith, strengths, laughter and dreams.”
Ashland University students shared their experience with three other institutions while there. The four universities quickly came together as one. The group even formed a chorus for an Ash Wednesday service, singing praises and sharing their faith.
With the success of this initial medical mission trip, Ashland University is working to prepare additional trips in the future. This summer, nursing students are traveling to South Africa on a medical mission trip.
Aside from the beauty of the Bahamas, the group was able to experience the proud and friendly Bahamian people, Swope said.
And there is no doubt that this group left a bit of themselves in the small island with a big heart.
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.