Clayton State University nursing students are once again preparing to head to the jungle of Rio Dulce, Guatemala, for their Maymester trip. This year’s trip will be extremely special to a mother and daughter who will be able to share the experience together. Phyllis Pruiksma (Fayetteville) and Melanie Davis (Fayetteville) are looking forward to working side by side.
“I have been on this service-learning trip several times and know that, for many, it is a life-changing experience,” Karen Weaver, director of the Clayton State RN-BSN program says. “Once, I was lucky enough to share the experience with my husband, Ross and adolescent grandson, Zachary; therefore I know how especially rewarding this trip can be when sharing it with family members. Our whole family plans to make the Jungle Medic experience into one of our family vacations in the near future.”
Davis heard about the Guatemala trip during orientation to the Clayton State nursing program.
“From that moment, I knew I wanted to go,” she says. “My husband could see my interest and encouraged me to go.
“When I first heard of the Guatemala trip, I was so excited about the possibility of going and I told my mother all about it. I knew she was a little jealous, but she was happy for me to have this opportunity. It wasn’t long before she was asking me if I would be OK with the idea of her joining me on this trip as a grad student. My mother and I have a very close relationship and she has been a huge role model in my life, so I was thrilled at the chance to work with her.”
The two had previously traveled to Belize together for a mission trip.
“She was the team nurse and I was a high school student, so we did not speak the same language at that time,” Davis says of their previous trip together. “Following my mother’s medical influence and my father’s military influence, I joined the Georgia Army National Guard as a combat medic. It wasn’t long before I knew that patient care was my calling and my passion. My mother is one of my biggest supporters as I pursue a nursing degree. We now do speak the same language, which has brought us even closer.”
Pruiksma decided to go on the trip early on in the spring semester 2010.
“My daughter mentioned she was going as an elective,” she says. “She and I had gone to Belize in 1999 on a mission trip. We enjoyed that greatly, so when this opportunity came up, I decided to go also. I too needed the credit hours.
“I have always believed from an early age that Melanie had the heart for nursing. She began this journey three years ago and I am so proud of her. This will be the first time we will work side by side as nurses. This is such a thrill for me. We will create memories that we can each carry with us forever. Melanie will one day tell our stories to her children.”
Pruiksma also looks forward to working with future nurses.
“I have always loved training and mentoring new graduate nurses in my years of nursing,” she says. “Now, we will be working together in a totally different culture. It will be a new challenge for all of us. I am also excited for the opportunity to serve the children and adults in Guatemala. These people deserve more than what we can give them. I am thankful to be able to give them a little bit of hope for the short time we will be there. “