Ellen Laurenz ’22



Wheeler, MI


Double Major Healthcare Administration and Nursing

Summary of your experience:

Volunteering at St. Lucy’s School for special needs’ children and job shadowing at the San hospital.

What did you learn as a result of this experience?

Through my experience, I learned a tremendous amount. I spent 3 of my 4 weeks in an elementary school for kids with special needs. This placement not only impacted my career, but also me as a person. I learned a lot about myself and how to truly care. The kiddos that I was working with on a day to day basis just have no idea how set back they really are. Yet, they are some of the happiest children that I have ever met. I believe the staff at this school were extremely influential due to their undying passion that they all had to help others. They were the type of adults that I strive to be like. 

Prior to arriving, I had never been surrounded by kids with such severe disabilities. At first, it was rather difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that most of students will never know how to count money, read, or eat on their own. But as time went on, I got familiar with the kids and their conditions. In my spare time, I read and did a lot of research about the conditions that I saw most.

While at the hospital, I learned a lot about the background work that makes a large hospital run. I spent time with the marketing team, communications, and surgical staff. I believe that everything I learned there was important. It was interesting for me to job shadow the administrative side because I had never seen that side of a hospital before. I learned that everything is a process, and clear communication is the key to having a successful hospital.

While there, I also learned about the sterilization of medical equipment. I believe this experience will truly help shape my nursing career.

How has your Alma Venture solidified or altered your career goals?

I believe this experience helped my futures academic and career goals. Working at the school sparked a real interest in mental disabilities; this interest could lead to a future research project, or even a job.

At the hospital, I watched numerous surgeries and learned that, personally, I prefer to make connections with the patients, and that maybe a surgical nurse wouldn’t be the best career choice for me. At the hospital, I was able to make lots connections between real life and a textbook.

What was the most rewarding experience during your Alma Venture?

Overall, my favorite part about this experience working at St.Lucy’s.

I was able to make a real difference. I was helping with everything from feeding kids, to teaching them, to taking them on field trips. I could see that the teachers truly appreciated my presence, and the kids were always happy to see me.

My favorite moment during my time was at recess one day. I was drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, and a little girl asked if she could join. I said of course, and I broke my piece of chalk in half; therefore, leaving us both with a piece. She asked me why I did that, instead of just saying no. I explained the concept of sharing. Later, a boy asked the same thing, and the girl broke her chalk in half again, and she explained the same concept. About a week later, those two students came up to me with 6 others who all had broken chalk pieces and were proud to say they were sharing. This experience made me smile because I was able to provide such an important lesson in a simple way.

What advice would you give a student considering this type of Alma Venture?

I would recommend this experience to anyone! I will admit that it was a little challenging at times to travel across the world independently. I had to deal with unexpected situations such as flight cancellations and other details, that I would not have predicted. But overall, it was great! I would especially encourage education majors to do this trip because I spent a lot of time in the classroom setting.