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BYU Nursing Students & Alumni Unite to Prepare Public & Global Health Kits

PROVO, UT – BYU College of Nursing students, faculty, and members of the college’s Alumni Board gathered to assemble 580 humanitarian kits on Friday, March 8, 2024. In the end, 130 newborn kits and 450 oral hygiene kits were assembled, in addition to 400 toothbrushes to be distributed during the college’s Public and Global Health Nursing Practicums this Spring 2024.

In attendance at the service project was Assistant Teaching Professor, Sarah Harmon Davis. She commented, “I loved being part of the effort to compile the newborn kits! There was a spirit of service and joy as the students put the kits together. We were amazed at how quickly the students were able to compile that many newborn and oral hygiene kits.”

Davis also observed, “The second-semester students I talked to expressed excitement about their opportunity to participate in the Public and Global Health Nursing practicums next year. I hope that by serving in this way, the students will have glimpsed the power of not only learning from others abroad, but of serving their brothers and sisters in far-flung places.”

One such Nursing student, Jalyenn Rodriguez (semester two) shared, “Participating in the event got me excited for the upcoming practicums. I was easily able to picture myself handing these kits out in a different country and it sparked lots of excited conversation amongst the students. Seeing the cute little onesies was exciting, too because one day I hope to work with mothers and babies.”

This year will be Professor Davis’s second time travelling to Tonga with Nursing students. Last year, she witnessed firsthand the gratitude that the humanitarian kits had on individuals there. She recalls, “One mother dressed her baby up in the outfit provided in the kits while she was still in the hospital – it fit her baby perfectly! I was so grateful to be part of the wonderful effort from BYU College of Nursing, and I’m excited to participate again. It will be even more meaningful for me this year since I was able to help compile the kits.”

The oral hygiene kits consist of fundamental necessities such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss. Similarly, the newborn kits contain a variety of essentials including cloth diapers, pins, a blanket, onesie, nightgown, hat, socks, burp cloths, soap, and a bulb syringe.

An inaugural contribution from the Carol Sorenson Smith Charitable Fund, not only supplied essential items for newborn kits, but also provided funding for six nursing students to participate in one of ten Public and Global Health Nursing practicums this year. Dr. Chris Hammond of Hammond Dentistry in Provo, Utah, alongside Dr. Ben Magleby, Tiffany and Dan Schwebach all of Clovis, California, and the Hillcrest 3rd Ward Relief Society in the Orem Utah Hillcrest Stake, generously donated items for the dental hygiene kits.

In the coming weeks, students and faculty will travel to Czech Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Spain, Taiwan, Tonga, and Zambia. Some students will work closer to home with veterans in Washington D.C. or with vulnerable populations around Utah. These practicums allow students an opportunity to learn as visitors in another culture, acquire new nursing skills, and gain hands-on clinical experience through over 84 clinical hours.

Rodriguez explained that she hasn’t decided which country she will visit. “The more I learn about each place, the more I can’t decide what my top pick will be.” One thing is clear, however. Jaylenn expressed, “I can’t wait to learn about and serve different cultures!”