Liberia trip helps Nursing major to stretch herself ‘outside of just being a student’
You might say that Megan Chaney is getting a dual education at York College of Pennsylvania. After completing a rigorous course of study, she will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing next May.
But in a separate immersive program, she has learned creative thinking, entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
That parallel track of study results from her being a Graham Innovation Scholar. In the summer, the Scholars program took her to Liberia to see how the African country’s health care system functions and how its nursing students are educated.
Megan, from Baldwin, Maryland, is part of the inaugural class of Graham Scholars. As a senior in high school, she interviewed for the program, which allows students from various majors to help plan their curriculum while they learn about employee management and problem solving.
“We learned from one another and strengthened one another’s abilities,” Megan says of the Scholars, with their diverse educational backgrounds.
This year, the program is giving her experience as a mentor, as she teaches freshmen alongside faculty members in the areas of design thinking and innovation.
Gaining a new perspective
For two and a half weeks in May, Megan and two other Graham Scholars ‒ a Graphic Design major and a Nuclear Medicine major ‒ and a faculty member learned about health care and health education in Liberia.
The trip marked the first time Megan had been outside North America.
The Scholars chose Liberia because it is the homeland of the Nuclear Medicine major.
“Her hope and dream is to return after she becomes a doctor,” Megan points out.
The group was based in the capital of Monrovia, a city of more than 1 million residents, but got to travel to rural areas because of the connections and family that the Liberian student had in many parts of the country.
The Scholars toured three hospitals and the National Institute for Public Health, where they interviewed administrators. They also visited a university nursing school.
Forays outside Monrovia allowed them to compare health care facilities in the country’s urban and rural areas.
Megan was impressed by Liberians’ pride in their country.
“A lot of people we spoke to who had visited the United States feel so blessed to bring their education back to their own country and work there,” she says.
A chance to nurture
Megan says she always was interested in science, and many family members work in health care. The field of nursing captured her attention during a presentation by a high school alum.
“There are many different ways to use a degree in nursing,” she notes. “You can have a 9-to-5 job in administration or there are so many different routes you can go.”
She says she’s been a caretaker of sorts for friends and family members, so the nurturing aspect of nursing “felt natural to me.”
York College appeared on Megan’s radar because a family friend had graduated from the school around the time she was beginning her college search.
“I wanted to be about an hour away from home and was looking for a school with a smaller-home feeling. I had heard good things about the nursing program,” she says.
Her decision came down to York College and another school.
“When I first came on campus, I knew it was the right fit. York College felt like home, where I should be,” she says.
Smaller class sizes and her one-on-one relationships with faculty members have proved important to her.
An unbounded future
Megan works part time in the emergency room at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, Maryland. She wants to continue in that setting after graduation and eventually go into trauma care.
“I like the fact that you see patients on their worst day and you can make such an impact in a short amount of time,” she explains. “There’s always something new, something different. It requires giving your all.”
Besides her degree, Megan will leave York College with a measure of confidence and independence that the Graham Innovation Scholars program has instilled in her.
She says being a Scholar taught her how to be a leader. In the program, you can “stretch yourself outside of just being a student.”
“If you can dream it, you can do it,” she contends. “The sky’s the limit. You can make anything happen.”