For as long as she can remember, Caitlin Stephens has felt a calling to serve others. It’s why she studied nursing and will graduate with her bachelor’s degree from Towson University’s College of Health Professions on Friday, May 22 at 10 a.m.
But instead of working in a hospital like a lot of her fellow nurses, the Olney, Maryland, native is heading to Cameroon with the Peace Corps.
Initially, she saw herself as an ICU nurse. During her time at Towson, though, Stephens served as a clinical nurse extern at Johns Hopkins Hospital working with many homeless patients. It helped her realize her heart wasn’t in intensive care, but that she still wanted to help patients who were less fortunate.
“I realized this call to serve others was leading me towards serving populations that have unreliable access to healthcare and primary care or those without health insurance and no way to pay for medical treatment,” she said.
Another clinical rotation captured her interest: labor and delivery. Through working with expectant mothers, she “absolutely fell in love with obstetrics and women’s health.”
She thought about working on a labor and delivery unit but still didn’t want to be in a traditional hospital setting. Ultimately, she could not ignore the unequal access to preventive healthcare resources and discrepancies in care she saw both locally and globally.
“Through my journeys, I ultimately chose the Peace Corps,” she noted. “There I am able to provide necessary health access and education to populations and geographic locations that do not have the consistent access. The program I am participating in is focused specifically on maternal and child health, which is an area I am very passionate about.”
Stephens feels the past four years have flown by. While at Towson, she was a member of the Honors College, a writing assistant at the campus Writing Center, a peer instructor coach at the IDEA Center in the nursing department and part of the executive board for Towson’s Catholic Campus Ministry.
She feels prepared to start her next phase not only because of her Towson education but also the different extracurricular activities that had an impact on her.
“It really has shaped me as a person and a leader,” she added. “It truly benefited me more in the long run than simply being challenged academically.”
After graduation, she will spend the summer with her family before leaving in early September. While she will miss her family and friends, she is committed to helping those in need.
“I am really excited and really grateful for this opportunity, and I cannot wait to see what the two years have in store for me,” Stephens said. “I am also nervous, as I am walking into many unknowns. However, I feel the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward, and I am very hopeful for a rewarding, albeit challenging, two years.”