Student Success Stories - Brooke Alston
Brooke Alston always knew that she wanted a career in the medical field.
“I think I was five when I started saying I wanted to be a doctor and work in a hospital,” she said.
Today, the Salem Community College nursing graduate is living her dream, but it isn’t just those in Salem County who are benefiting from her work. For several weeks during the summer of 2009, Brooke volunteered her caretaking skills to help people in health clinics in Africa.
Brooke, a New Castle, Del. resident, grew up in Pennsville. While she was certain a medical career was for her, it wasn’t until she attended Salem Community College that she decided on nursing.
“It just turned out to be a great fit for me,” she said.
Brooke earned both her certificate in practical nursing in 2008 and an associate degree in nursing from SCC, then a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Wilmington University in 2010. She has worked for Atlas Homecare and Loving Care Pediatric home care.
But it was her work in Africa that has really impacted her life as a nurse.
“As soon as I heard about Doctors without Borders when I was little, I knew that was something I wanted to do with my life,” Brooke said.
Since the organization requires two years of experience in the field, Brooke sought out whatever volunteer work she could do for now. That led her to her time in Uganda.
In Uganda, Brooke worked in Bbiri and Kawuusi health clinics. She immunized babies and treated patients on an outpatient basis. She said she saw a lot of cases of malaria and she helped run two large HIV testing sites. One of them included about 50 children from a local orphanage. Miraculously, all were negative, she said.
In addition, after the clinics closed, Brooke volunteered at the Raising Up Hope for Uganda orphanage.
She said the experience was something that she will never forget.
“It was amazing!” she said. “The weekdays were filled with volunteering and living in the village. I stayed in a house with other volunteers and we ate all Ugandan food, slept with mosquito nets, and used their toilet, which was a hole in the ground.”
In her free time, she explored her host country. On weekends, she went to Sipi Falls, visited the equator and went whitewater rafting on the Nile River.
Before her trip, Brooke said she knew that the experience would be a challenging one, but that was exactly what she wanted.
“I wanted to have my eyes opened and to get a better view of the issues of healthcare globally,” she said. “I expected to make an impact, but I think, in turn, the experience ends up leaving the biggest impact on you.”
Brooke said she plans to return to Uganda and remains in contact with individuals there through e-mail.
Though it has only just begun, Brooke’s nursing career already has been fulfilling. She directly credits Salem Community College with establishing her career track and helping her accomplish all that she has so far.
“It gave me my nursing degree!” she said. “The nursing faculty at SCC is amazing.”