Due to the hard work of the Wabash GHI, this summer, I had the chance to intern at SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region), a non-profit whose mission is to help fill the economic gaps left by the decline of the coal industry in Eastern Kentucky. Due to the coal industry being upended, many industries, such as the health care industry, are attempting to fill these economic gaps. At the same time, the healthcare industry has also experienced hurdles as well. While at SOAR, I had the privilege to assist their CDC fellows in addressing the nursing shortage epidemic, one of the healthcare industry’s most pressing problems. While the nursing shortage was not an unknown problem to me, I did not truly understand the severity of the nursing shortage in rural areas like Pikeville, the city I stayed in while in Eastern Kentucky. To address the nursing shortage, Soar had been planning an Appalachian nursing academy to help inspire and grow interest in the nursing field within the region.
This type of outreach and advocacy was foreign to me, but I was excited at the chance to help the Eastern Kentucky community through my work. While working at SOAR, I was able to apply many of the skills I learned at Wabash, especially the ability to think critically. These skills helped me think out of the box when offering ideas for the academy. Activities such as deliberations and teamwork-building exercises were ideas that the other interns and I help implement for the academy. The ability of the other interns and me to bring Wabash teachings to the Nursing academy allowed us to offer real-world skills to the people of Eastern Kentucky. With the skills, I’ve learned while at Wabash and through my participation in the (GHI), Global Health initiative, I was able to become a vital member of the SOAR team and ultimately is the reason I was able to take on more complex and challenging tasks.
Opportunities like the one I mentioned above are something I didn’t necessarily think I would have this summer due to the fact I am only 20 years old. However, due to the outstanding network of alumni at Wabash and the expanding network of donors, I strengthened my interest in the non for profit sector.