Nicaragua bound: Nursing grad plans international career

Not many college juniors have babies named after them, especially after having just helped bring them into the world. That is, however, exactly what happened to senior nursing student Ayla Landry when she volunteered to work at a local clinic in Nicaragua during her spring break in 2009.

Landry barely even spoke to the woman before helping her through labor. She was young and scared, Landry said, and she wasn’t sure who the father of her baby girl was.

“It didn’t even matter,” Landry said. “I had to help her, and I loved doing it. I never even dreamed she’d name the baby after me. I mean, how many people does that happen to? It is without a doubt, the most amazing thing that’s happened to me.”

Graduating with nursing and Spanish degrees in May, Landry’s plans include moving to Nicaragua in August to give back to the country.

Landry said she hopes to one day obtain a master’s degree in public health and potentially work with a public-assisting non-governmental organization in Nicaragua, possibly a nonprofit organization.

Her main goal is simply to help better people’s lives in whatever way she can. She plans to take her Graduate Record Examination (GRE) over the summer and is studying for the licensing exam to become a registered nurse.

As a student, Landry said she learned and experienced so much with the TCU nursing program that she knew she would be ready for whatever issues or problems could potentially arise in her future.

Landry worked closely with Wayne Barcellona, a professor of anatomy, and served as a teaching assistant for his anatomy class during her sophomore year.

“I would say she’s.destined for success in anything she does and as far as Nicaragua’s concerned,” Barcellona said. “It’s an ambitious undertaking and she has all the necessary intellectual elements to bring that to a successful conclusion.”

Landry plans to stay in Nicaragua for at least five years, working in clinics and with various nonprofit health organizations. Landry said she has friends who work with Manna Project International, a Nicaraguan nonprofit based in Nashville, Tenn. According to its website, its mission is to “foster communities of young adults and encourage them to use their passions and education in service to communities in need.”

Landry said she would love to work further and more in-depth with MPI, as she is more than aware of the nursing and public health deficiencies in Nicaragua.

“Did you know that there are 3.6 nurses for every 10,000 people?” Landry asked. “In the U.S., we have generally one nurse for every 25 to 30 people. If that doesn’t necessitate a cry for help, I don’t know what does.”

Landry said she knows she will be surprised by what she encounters because the medical field can be unpredictable, but she said because of the education and experience she’s received at TCU, she knows she will be prepared.

“There has been a great progression in the nursing school,” Landry said. “It’s really great as far as hands-on training and encouraging people to find their own nooks.”

Landry cited nursing instructor Sharon Canclini as a highly inspirational teacher.

“She lives what she’s about, and she’s all about give, give, give,” Landry said.

Though Nicaragua has and will continue to figure prominently in her life, Landry said she is prepared to help anyone and will go wherever life takes her to do so.

“Everyone has a chance to make a positive impact,” Landry said. “We just have to be comfortable drifting out of our ‘bubbles.'”

Wanting to specialize in women’s issues and poverty, Landry said, she could, and would, potentially go all over the world.