International experiences inspire nursing student to help locally

One of our students, Mark Lamb, was featured in the article “A Few Good Men at the College” in the summer 2011 issue of our Nursing Excellence magazine. This is his story.

Mark Lamb’s life has taken him to many unforgettable places – from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, the remote mountains in Kashmir, the streets of Calcutta, the slums of Nairobi, to the post-earthquake disaster in Haiti. All of which have fueled his passion for helping others.

Before becoming a nursing student, Mark majored in philosophy and writing at the Loyola University in New Orleans. While on a study abroad program in China, he suffered a near-fatal accident that led him back home to St. Louis. His accident was so extensive that he had to learn how to walk again.

“In Beijing, I only received the treatment that I did because I had an American passport, my school’s backing, and some money in my bank account. I live with guilt and gratitude for the unearned privilege of walking and breathing daily,” he says.

Mark returned to school just two weeks before Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. He felt empathy for the people struck by the disaster so after graduating, he spent a year volunteering with AmeriCorps to rehabilitate flooded houses.

Following his AmeriCorps service, Mark accepted a job to teach English in South Korea. He was offered the opportunity to extend his contract, but his passion led him elsewhere. “I loved that job. I loved my students and I’m grateful for that opportunity and the avenues afforded by my salary. But I realized I couldn’t do the type of teaching that I wanted,” he says. So after completing his contract, he spent three months volunteering in India – which included teaching English in a remote mountain village in Kashmir, tutoring Tibetan refugees in the village of McLeod Ganj, and assisting a volunteer physician and nurses at a health clinic in Calcutta.

In Calcutta, he saw the plight of the poor and the dying. Amidst concrete floors and cots on which dying patients lay – the experience in India reaffirmed Mark’s decision to work in health care. “It made me realize I had the stomach for nursing,” he says.

After returning to the United States, Mark applied for and was accepted into the accelerated nursing program at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College. During winter and spring breaks while completing his prerequisite courses, he continued participating in service opportunities – first as a service trip leader visiting health clinics in Kenya through the Washington University Catholic Student Center, then as a volunteer in Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake.

Now, as a graduating student in the Accelerated program at Barnes-Jewish College, Mark is on the path to realizing his goal of becoming a nurse. He has future plans of becoming a nurse practitioner so he can focus on health promotion and disease prevention within underserved communities.

“I like to go where I see a need,” he says. “There are a lot of needs in the developing world. But there are also a lot of needs in this country, in this city. I’m convinced the only way to be effective is to live and work beside the people you want to help.”

5 thoughts on “International experiences inspire nursing student to help locally

  1. What an inspiration! If more young people shared mark’s commitment and selflessness I would fear less for the future of this world we live in.

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