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Open Letter from Nursing Students, Gina Crincoli,Shelley Adams, Dawn Stone, Beth Gunnet, Aida Galvan, and DavidVarettoni, May 12, 2004.

As nursing students, we are rewired to think independently, butat the same time, think of others. We have been called upon duringour last year of nursing school to engage ourselves in ourcommunity, somehow, some way. Only catch was that we were beinggraded on it.

So, one would begin to think that since our grade depended onour service learning project, we may not have put our heart intoit. Maybe we just wanted to get it over with; or maybe we did nottruly care about the cause. But you are wrong.

Beginning in January 2004, we were instructed that the nursingclass was going to participate in a grant given to the school bythe Community College National Center for Community Engagement. Wewere selected, out of seven other colleges across the nation, toreceive part of a $45,000 grant to improve and expand oninitiatives aimed at promoting homeland security and emergencypreparedness. As the weeks passed and we still did not have aproject, out from the sky (well, not really) an article appeared atour doorstep in the Courier News, "Somerset seeking first-aidexperts" (February 2003). Interested in learning more aboutthe program within the article, the Medical Reserve Corps ofSomerset County, we began our service learning and civicengagement.

The Medical Reserve Corps is one of several components ofCitizen Corps, USA Freedom Corps. It is a network ofcommunity-based, citizen volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)units, which have been established by people for use in theircommunities. The MRC units provide health professionals and othersan organized mechanism through which they can volunteer their timeand skills. This allows them to strengthen their communities bypreparing for and responding to large-scale emergencies, natural orman- made, such as influenza or smallpox epidemic, chemical spill,or acts of terrorism.

The MRC of Somerset County was brand new and searching for help.Nursing students to the rescue! We provide this unit with a voicein our college and in our community. We held a Community Awarenessand Recruitment Day on April 2, 2004 for anyone interested inlearning more about the MRC program in Somerset County and even hadpeople fill out applications. We worked with Lucille Young-Talbot,the MRC coordinator, to make flyers and posters to use atsubsequent events.

Together, we have learned how to network. We have learned how totake nothing and turn it into something just by using ourindividual knowledge and personal contacts. We workedcollaboratively and on a deadline. We each took responsibility fora part of the puzzle and when we put it all together, we created abeautiful work of art. We are proud of what we have accomplishedand hope that the next generation of nursing students can continuetaking on service learning projects to better themselves and learnhow they truly are an integral part of their community.

Raritan Valley Community College
Last updated 7/26/06 by AKA

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