No child should have to die of a disease we have a vaccination for."
Reba Carethers has taken on poverty, diabetes, AIDS and prenatal care during her time at the School of Nursing, but she's just getting started.
In May and June 2012, the Angleton, Texas, native traveled to Ghana to work with pregnancy / maternal and child health programs, where she helped to create training materials to promote healthier pregnancies.
A key source of inspiration for Carethers comes from world-renowned physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer, chief strategist and co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH), an organization founded in 1987 to deliver health care to the residents of Haiti. During her junior year, Carethers served as president and Steering Committee member of FACE AIDS, a student organization under the auspices of PIH, organizing World AIDS Day on campus and helping to raise $7,000 to revitalize a health center in Rwanda.
As a public health intern last summer, she trained at Johns Hopkins University before heading to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to work on diabetes research, a project that won second prize at the Sanford Children's Hospital Science Festival.
She says she decided to enroll in nursing school because nurses, who clearly get the most patient interaction, are in the best position to make changes, whether in patient care, public policy or research. "Nurses put the plan into action," Carethers says.
Her next milestones? Becoming a critical care nurse practitioner with a master's degree in public health, then pursuing a doctorate in nursing and continuing her research into health disparities among different populations.