Nursing alumna served on mission trip

1959463_10151981261647686_1463591532_n“I went against the grain… I knew in my heart that I wasn’t ready to get a job,” Susan Debolt ‘13, of Stevens Point, said as she explained why she took a two-year mission trip around the world with World Race and the Christian Leadership Academy.

Born and raised in Stevens Point, Debolt hadn’t often left Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with the intentions of working through the pre-dental course. Debolt switched and joined the nursing track for a challenge.

She kept herself busy at UWO as she participated in the Oshkosh Student Association as a chair representative for the Oshkosh Student Nurse Association, and was active in Greek life as a Zeta Tau Alpha sorority member. Debolt was on the cheer and stunt team and Campus Crusades, or CRU. She worked as a community adviser in South Scott Hall. She also joined the Guy Healy Program and traveled to Japan to teach English for two months.

10304338_10152124956817686_5909466971153963241_nAfter graduation, Debolt knew she had a calling to real-life experiences around the world. She joined the mission trip and traveled to 11 countries, among them India, the Netherlands, Romania and South Africa. She continued with the Christian Leadership Academy, where she traveled to South Spain.

“I spent a lot of time on self-enrichment,” Debolt explained. “I saw the world first-hand. Being there and seeing what the ministry has taught and with my skills as a nurse, I asked myself what can I do to help others?”

In remotest areas of countries across the ocean, Debolt applied her nursing skills from UWO to help others with healthcare. She not only worked one-on-one with women, men and children, but also provided up-to-date education for the clinics.

540600_10150857948877031_1965592278_nIn Cambodia, Debolt helped a first-time mother at age 16 with her newborn baby. The mother couldn’t produce enough milk due to malnourishment, so Debolt provided vitamins, formula and herbs.

“A couple days later, I got a photo of her baby and he was healthy,” Debolt said. “He was the cutest.”

She also directed a clinic in an orphanage that was on top of a mountain, miles away from any healthcare options. Debolt explained that even though there was a government facility nearby, the workers didn’t have the proper education  on necessary healthcare options.

At the orphanage, people from surrounding villages traveled to see Debolt. With the help of two other mission volunteers, she gave basic health check-ups along with other medical care.

“I thanked God I had my iPod with my medications textbook because I had to give medications out,” Debolt said. “It’s scary when you’re the only one around for miles and you need to step up to the plate and just do it.”

Now that Debolt is back in the United States, she is thinking about her future in healthcare. However, she wouldn’t change her mission trip experience for any clinical work she would’ve done during the past two years.

“I believe I made the right decision for myself, which was hard, but it was so rewarding,” Debolt said. “I know I made a difference and I feel so fulfilled. It was a great way to take what I learned in the classrooms at UWO and apply it to a real-life situation.”

Debolt said healthcare is taken for granted in the United States. People in other countries often have never seen a band aid or have clean water to drink. They don’t understand how germs affect them.

“Healthcare overseas is nothing like what we have here in America,” Debolt said. “It challenges you to think critically because you don’t have half the supplies there than you do here.”

Debolt advises current nursing students to take time to develop themselves to learn what they want to do in the nursing field. She said students can get involved with mission trips by looking online or even attending trips with the nursing program to Peru.

“People need help overseas,” Debolt urged. “It makes a huge difference to them.”

Debolt is looking forward to working for a year and then returning back to graduate school at her alma mater. She was offered an internship at the United Nations with Sally Smith, an adviser who works with HIV/AIDS, and plans to work for the UN.

Although Debolt is moving forward, she reflects back on her time at UWO. She remembers when the Packers won the Super Bowl and she attended a Packer Party on the ninth floor of South Scott.

“Everyone dressed up and we had raffles and games between every quarter,” Debolt said. “We were like a family, and we had fun.”

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  1. Kelly says:

    Absolutely inspiring!

  2. Linda says:

    What an inspirational story! Godspeed as you continue your journey Susan and kudos to our CON! There is always hope and ‘good’ in this hurting world…..we need more stories like this!

  3. Cheong Yew, Hew says:

    Graduated in 1988. I have been a humanitarian wotker for the past 10 years too. Hope to see more alumni in Humanitarian work.

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