An Open Door to Guatemala Via Service Learning

An Open Door to Guatemala Via Service Learning

Steve St. Angelo
By Steve St. Angelo  | 
Spring 2024 As Seen in Our Spring 2024 Issue

The biggest takeaway from Guatemala for Andrea Lizarraga Sikic was trust.

It was experiencing the openness established by the Guatemalan health workers of Nursing Heart Inc. that led impoverished rural residents of San Martin to so eagerly welcome home visits by students from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON). It was seeing the impact that such trust had made in the basic health of families across the community.

Here was one more bit of reassurance that Lizarraga Sikic (center in accompanying photo) had come to the right place, meaning Johns Hopkins in East Baltimore as well as this little part of Guatemala. “Meeting people, especially the Nursing Heart organization leaders, showed me the impact that they have within their communities as far as dedication, teaching, and the love that they provide not only for their community but among their own team.”

How appropriate that Lizarraga Sikic remembered Guatemala as she dodged hospital carts, noisy outbursts, and sick babies at a hospital in Lima, Peru, her birthplace and the site of an extended visit over Spring Break. She was simply doing what she does—helping out an old friend with a sick 2-month-old before heading back to her regular job as a critical care pediatric nurse for cardiac patients at Stanford Children’s in Northern California. She says she loves the gig at Stanford, having moved to Northern California after working at Duke University Hospital for eight years. That was great too. But when it was time to choose a DNP program, Lizarraga Sikic locked in on JHSON’s global presence and opportunities, despite COVID’s limits on world travel. She figured if it happened anywhere, it’d be at JHSON. (Duke had accepted her as well.)

“I felt empowered … seeing what these wonderful individuals were doing for their [Guatemalan] community.”

Lizarraga Sikic, who has also practiced as a nurse in London—and who is pictured at center in accompanying image—will graduate the DNP program at JHSON this year.

“I’m very happy I joined Johns Hopkins,” says Lizarraga Sikic, who also earned an internship with the World Health Organization through the Center for Global Initiatives. “That’s sort of been my space for seeing what global health is and what the nursing role is within global health.” Learning opportunities like the one in Guatemala have only solidified her drive to be an international nurse—from Baltimore, to North Carolina, to Northern California, to Lima, Peru—wherever she ends up practicing. And Lizarraga Sikic has even more evidence that as a soon-to-be alumnus of the DNP Advanced Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner program, she is on exactly the right path.

“I felt empowered … seeing what these wonderful individuals were doing for their [Guatemalan] community, that rapport that has happened in a country with such low resources, and hoping that I
can do the same for my own community some day.”

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