Peace Corps Surprise Lands Nursing Student Right Where She Needed to Be

In plain English, volunteering and service to patients both mean flexibility


Newswise — The phone rang in the middle of a going-away party for Krista Brooks. It was the Peace Corps. She wasn’t going to Guatemala after all. The Chevy Chase, MD native, eager to practice her Spanish, was instead being sent to the one predominantly English-speaking nation in South America: Guyana.

Oh, well. What was one more about-face on a path that initially had Brooks headed toward veterinary school? “I had this moment: Children don’t get healthcare, and I was just around a person getting a $7,000 MRI for a ferret.”

She of course ended up loving what she kiddingly calls Peace Corps Lite: running water (sometimes), electricity (on and off), and a Creolese local dialect that at first meant “no idea what people were saying to me.” The need was no joke. Her assignment was to teach nursing students basic health promotion in a country where even talk of cancer can be taboo and nurses and instructors are in short supply. Brooks also helped organize and run Camp GLOW, a nationwide empowerment program for girls.

Now at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Brooks hopes to become a nurse practitioner and serve families like those she sees – and speaks Spanish with – through organizations serving Latino populations of East Baltimore, MD. Volunteering, she says, reminds nursing students, "This is why we are doing this.”

Also a Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow, Brooks figures to be at Johns Hopkins (no one’s idea of Nursing School Lite) until 2017 as she earns that NP. From a childhood fascination with healthcare-based reality TV to caring for her dad in the hospital to pre-vet to Guyana to East Baltimore, she’s already come a long way.

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