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Texas State RRC nursing students bring smiles and care to Peru

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By Kristen McLaughlin

Five Texas State RRC nursing students and their professor, Dr. Lyda Arevalo-Flechas, took their skills and knowledge to Peru for two weeks this summer to benefit Operation Smile International and a rural Peruvian village still recovering from earthquakes.

“Peru was an absolutely amazing and humbling experience with exposure to different types of healthcare in other countries,” student Amanda Bazan said. “The people of Peru are truly what made this a memorable experience. Everyone was so welcoming and thankful for our presence.”

The group traveled as members of Texas Partners of The Americas, an international network promoting social and economic development  through leadership and development programs. The Partners’ motto is to “Connect – Serve – Change Lives”.

After spending two days in Lima helping Operation Smile, the team traveled to Viña Vieja, (Ica, Peru). The 150-family village was devastated by two earthquakes in 2007, and is still recovering from the natural disasters. Dr. Arevalo-Flechas has been working with this community for about four years and led a group of nursing students in the re-opening of the community’s First Aid clinic in 2010.

The nursing students who participated in this trip are Whitney Milburn, Meghann Seal, Melody Bingham, El Burley and Amanda Bazan.

“I learned about the country and how nurses can have a huge impact on others through simple care and support,” student Melody Bingham said.

What is Operation Smile International? It is a charity that provides safe, reconstructive surgery for children who were born with facial deformities, including cleft palates and cleft lips. The organization was founded in 1982. According to the website, Operation Smile has provided more than 200,000 free surgeries.

“While in Lima we were fortunate enough to be a part of Operation Smile. Personally, this experience changed my life,” student El Burley said. “After one day working with this organization and the community, it changed my perspective and reinforced my love for humanitarian aid.”

Students said this trip has renewed their desire to enter the field of nursing.

“I have returned from Peru with inspiration, motivation, and an increased passion for nursing, learning, and serving others,” student Whitney Milburn said.

Prior to the trip, Dr. Arevalo-Flechas was able to draw off of her experience as a perioperative nurse by providing intraoperative nursing training to the students. They learned skills such as scrubbing, sterile gowning and gloving. These skills were put to use while volunteering with Operation Smile and while working with a pediatric inestivist and the post-anesthesia unit. While in Viña Vieja, the team provided basic screenings and conducted a CPR class in Spanish.

Not only did the Texas State RRC group help others on this trip, but they made connections that were hard to leave. “It was truly hard to say goodbye. I have endless thanks and limitless appreciation for the experience and opportunity made available to us in Peru 2012. I hope I get the chance to do travel there again soon,” student Meghann Seal said.

Dr. Arevalo-Flechas has worked with students in Peru over the past four years. She said as always, she enjoys watching her students grow.

“For me, the highlight of the trip was watching my future nursing colleagues grow as a person and as practitioners. I am addicted to those rewarding moments,” Dr.  Arevalo-Flechas said.

For more information and photos, click here.

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Gearing up for the fall

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By Kristen McLaughlin

College student studying in Park

College student studying in Park (Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360)

Many students probably have mixed emotions about the fall semester starting, but hopefully there is a part of you that is excited to be back on campus. We hope you experienced some fun vacations, enjoyed your nights off, and spent quality time with loved ones.  As someone who just graduated from a Texas State University master’s degree program in May, I know that each semester comes along with a healthy amount of preparation.  With only a few weeks left before it is back to the daily grind of balancing school with work or other daily tasks, don’t forget to:

  • Enjoy. Do something fun during the short time you have left before school starts again. Go swimming, take a mini vacation, bake cookies, see a movie or read a good book.  Enjoy the free time you have before you get into the school routine.
  • Prepare. Research the text books and supplies you will need for your courses and purchase them in time for classes. Several professors begin assignments right away. Research your professors as well and see if they have a website with some information about the course.
  • Rest. Get plenty of rest and be prepared to adjust your schedule once classes start, especially if you are taking night classes.
  • Get organized.  Get binders and notebooks for the appropriate classes. Keep all of your course subjects separate. Organization definitely helps when you are taking college courses! Organization also extends to your computer or laptop. Create a separate folder on your desktop for each course you plan to take.
  • Practice time management.  Without a doubt, schedules quickly fill up at the beginning of the semester. With multiple projects, papers, a social life and possibly work, it is important to set a daily routine. Keep a planner and mark important dates. It is also helpful to set reminders on your computer or phone.
  • Review information. Review paper work, such as loans and degree programs, especially if this is your first semester. Ask if you have questions.
  • Talk to your advisor. Make sure you are on track with your program. Get in touch with your advisor prior to the semester if you have not already to review your semester plan and overall degree plan.
  • Watch your finances. Be prepared for additional costs such as tuition, books, supplies and school-related events. If you can cut back on eating out or something extracurricular the few weeks before school, it could be beneficial. Every little bit helps!

Important dates before the semester:

  • First day of class: Aug. 27
  • Schedule changes:  Aug. 27-Aug. 30
  • Payment deadline Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. For more information and to pay, click here.

Some helpful websites:

With preparation and a positive attitude, you could start the semester stress free! Best of luck as you start a new semester at Texas State.

Why Texas State University Round Rock Campus?

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By Kristen McLaughlin 

What can you expect at Texas State University Round Rock Campus (RRC)?  To start, friendly faces, a beautiful facility and a top notch education is what I have experienced here.

Having graduated from the Mass Communication graduate school program at Texas State University in May, I had the opportunity to take three classes at the Texas State RRC. This was certainly helpful, since I live in Georgetown. I looked forward to these classes because it saved me gas mileage, but I learned quickly there were many other advantages to taking classes at the Round Rock Campus.

The classes I took here were Creativity in Business, Social Media at Work and International   PR/Advertising. The professors who taught my classes were all seasoned and dynamic. They not only taught the concept, but made it practical and shared their own experiences working in their field. The classes were small and the teachers all encouraged participation. My International PR professor shared his experiences teaching in South Korea, North Korea and other countries. My business professor was able to speak about various companies he worked for and my Social Media professor showed how social media outlets could be helpful for both career and everyday life.

You will probably notice driving onto the small campus on 1555 University Blvd. in Round Rock that it is a small campus with plenty of vacant parking spots. The university consists of two buildings: the St. David’s School of Nursing and Avery (which houses all of the other programs).  Texas State University Round Rock Campus is a satellite campus for Texas State University, but it offers primarily upper-level courses and masters-level programs. If you are thinking about transferring to the Round Rock Campus, view our transfer planning guides here. The campus offers Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, certification and distance learning ranging in subjects that include Criminal Justice, Education, Nursing, Business and more.  Click here to view a full list of the programs the campus offers.

One aspect I have enjoyed about the Round Rock Campus both as a student and working as a Graduate Research Assistant in the spring is the calm, beautiful atmosphere. Both the inside and the outside of the campus are pristine and peaceful. The campus features a pond and walking trail behind the Avery building. The campus is also environmentally conscious, featuring recycling bins in the student lounge area.

Although it is small, there are definitely resources available that can help students succeed. A Writing Center can be found in Avery 203. Library Services is located in Avery 255 and the comprehensive resources of the Alkek Library can be accessed here.  Are you a student who wants to get more involved in “campus life”? The Round Rock Campus offers plenty of events throughout the year, including the summer. Click here for a listing of events.  And to stay connected to campus, join our social media sites (Facebook and Twitter).

Thinking about attending Texas State RRC? Visit the website for more information. Already a student? What is your favorite aspect of the campus? E-mail km1745@txstate.edu and I will share your answer on our social media sites.