Newsroom

Alesia Dassance: Helping Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Israel

Alesia Dassance’s Alma Venture cleared up any doubts she had about her career path in nursing. “I have a point of view that others don’t have because I was able to experience health care in a different country,” she says.

<em>Alesia Dassance, far right, with Michael Altman ’80 (center) of Flying Doctors of America.<br><br></em>Alesia Dassance, far right, with Michael Altman ’80 (center) of Flying Doctors of America.

Eaton Rapids junior Alesia Dassance has always wanted to help people.

“Everyone in my family is in some kind of career service that helps others, and so it’s always been a passion of mine,” says Dassance, who is majoring in nursing and plans to become a doctor.

“A lot of people in my family have had medical problems, and they’ve either received great care or they haven’t received great care,” she says. “Becoming a nurse or going into the medical field is one way to ensure that others who are having health issues receive the care that they should.”

So when Judy McKenna, the director of nursing education at Alma College, emailed students about an opportunity to serve on a humanitarian medical mission working with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Israel — Dassance jumped at the opportunity.

An alumnus, Michael Altman ’80, is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Flying Doctors of America and had reached out to McKenna.

“He wanted to give a scholarship to two nursing students to go with them,” says Dassance. She also applied her Alma Venture grant to the travel-abroad opportunity

In Jordan and Israel, she worked in relief clinics providing much-needed medical care to refugees alongside dentists, physician assistants, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pediatricians and others.

“Many of the Syrian refugees do not have the proper care that they need, so when organizations such as the Flying Doctors of America come to help, hundreds of people are waiting for care,” she says.

<em>Alesia Dassance, far right<br><br></em>Alesia Dassance, far right

Her experiences made her appreciate how fortunate Americans are to have the health care resources that they do.

“I experienced practicing around someone’s religious beliefs, I learned a lot about how the body reacts to certain medicines, and I was able to experience how to help others — without having machines and medical files,” says Dassance.

The trip was something she never could have afforded without the help of the Alma Venture grant. She now sees her coursework through a different lens, and that perspective sets her apart from her peers.

“I have a point of a view that others don’t have because I was able to experience health care in a different country,” she says.

Her Alma Venture cleared up any doubts she had about her career path.

“This really made it set in stone in my mind that this is my passion,” she says.

Watch Alesia’s Venture video.

Story published on February 11, 2016