Breelyn M. Elsbernd, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, has been named the 2006 recipient of the John R. and Ruth Ward Gurtler Scholarship, established in memory of alumna Ruth Ward Gurtler, Class of 1929, to ensure that qualified, caring applicants are able to carry on the proud tradition of Hopkins nursing. Elsbernd will begin the accelerated baccalaureate program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing this summer.
"[Nursing] is what I am meant to do," says Elsbernd. "And it is with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing that I am meant to prepare myself. No other program matches Hopkins' commitment to improving the holistic health of vulnerable communities. I am absolutely looking forward to being part of the Community Outreach Enhancement Program."
Elsbernd graduated Magna Cum Laude from Luther College in Iowa with a liberal arts degree in Management and Spanish. "While at Luther," she says, "I learned that true leadership involves an exchange of energy that is fostered by the ability and willingness to give of oneself. I believe the best outlet for such an exchange is through service."
Community service and volunteerism have long been a part of Elsbernd's life. Her service has included volunteering as a Spanish interpreter for a WIC clinic; helping to build homes with Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala, Kentucky, Alabama, and South Carolina; working with the American Red Cross to provide immediate disaster relief to low income communities; earning the AmeriCorps Personal Contribution Award; and working as a Microenterprise (Handicraft Cooperative) Development Volunteer during her Peace Corps service in Bolivia, South America.
"In San Pablo, my interests in women's and children's health, education, and intercultural communication converged as I worked with the Guaraya women to create a handicraft cooperative. As I grew closer to each artisan and became privy to the extreme obstacles the women faced, my future as a nurse began to take shape. I saw in our daily interaction that unmet healthcare needs were of utmost concern, affecting every aspect of life in an underdeveloped nation," says Elsbernd. "Through the relationships made and the harsh realities witnessed, I realized my place in our global village and resolved to commit myself to community health nursing."