Students Volunteer in Haiti Service Work over Summer

For BVU students, Education for Service happens year-round, not just when class is in session. Two students, Abigail Ross and Megan Wassom, were both called to Haiti this summer to serve, but for unique reasons.

This summer, two Buena Vista University students traveled independently to Haiti, interweaving their personal beliefs of giving back with BVU’s motto of Education for Service.

Megan Wassom, a biomedical science major from Spencer, assisted Dr. Rick Wilkerson of Northwest Iowa Bone, Joint & Sports Surgeons in performing orthopedic surgeries in Jacmel, Haiti. As a certified surgical technologist, Wassom and nine others on the Love Takes Root trip not only fixed fractured femurs and broken arms of those waiting years for treatment, but they also taught Haitian medical professionals new techniques.

“Surgeons and nurses watch the procedures we do so they’re not dependent on us, and they’re able to continue helping patients after we leave,” says Wassom, who plans to pursue physician assistant school after graduating from BVU. She stated that most healthcare professionals in Haiti lack orthopedic training and the necessary resources that many Americans take for granted. Wassom and the rest of her group also visited an orphanage on their eight-day trip sponsored by Love Takes Root, which travels to Haiti several times each year.

“I think the best way to provide service to others is through education, which is why I’m so glad BVU’s motto is Education for Service,” she says. Wassom also serves as one of BVU’s Alternate Week of Offsite Learning (AWOL) vice presidents and as a member of Student Mobilizing Outreach & Volunteer Efforts (MOVE). She also participated in a spring break service trip to Nicaragua last March as part of BVU’s Panorama Service Expedition where she and nine other students immersed themselves in the area's culture and served on a farm alongside locals helping prepare grounds for planting coffee trees.

Senior psychology and social work double major Abby Ross from Council Bluffs also spent part of her Summer in Haiti by joining the nonprofit Imagine Missions. The group of 15 from Cedar Rapids spend 11 days at an orphanage in Despinos, Haiti directing literacy classes and empowerment workshops, teaching English and learning Haitian Creole, distributing food, and teaching others about loving themselves.

Ross thanks spiritual life on campus, her full-ride scholarship to attend BVU, and other BVU funding for allowing her to reach others through service. “I participated in an AWOL trip to Puerto Rico my freshman year, and that’s when my passion for service took a new life,” she says. “When many students graduate from college, they think about how they can serve themselves, but BVU students graduate prepared to live a life of serving others.”

While mission work is an important part of her life, Ross also participates in cheerleading, BV Buddies mentoring, Black Student Union, and as the president of Multicultural Engagement Leadership Team. Ross is also the vice president of campus service events for Student MOVE, and she volunteers 300 hours each year as an AmeriCorps member. Ross’ spring semester will consist of a practicum experience as part of her social work major, and she looks forward to a January J-Term trip to the Bahamas.