Students at PUC are exposed to incredible opportunities which allow them to help make the world a better place. Ashley Kim is one of those students. As a communication major at PUC, Ashley met and took classes from journalism professor Susan Dix Lyons, from whom she learned about Clinica Verde and made a decision that has not only changed her life, but others around the world.
Currently, Ashley works as the Executive Assistant for Clinica Verde, a non-profit organization which focuses on preventive healthcare through a whole-health approach to care, beginning with nutrition education and sustainable farming by providing an organic crop production and agriculture learning space for the local community. In 2007, Clinica Verde opened a health clinic in rural Nicaragua and since then, they have provided over 55,500 medical consults, with their focus on providing care for the Nicaraguan mothers and children living in poverty. Their HIGHER Program takes interested students on medical trips to Nicaragua four different times during a year and are currently working with the PUC Missions Department to set up potential trips.
What was your major at PUC, and how did it prepare you for current job?
I was a double major at PUC, intercultural communications and Spanish. Both majors prepared me well for my position at Clinica Verde. Through my communication major, I learned the importance of communicating effectively and on a timely basis, which is so important when being in contact with multiple businesses or individuals via email, phone, or social media. Specifically in the intercultural aspect, I learned how people with different cultural backgrounds communicate in various ways. This has been especially helpful because working stateside yet having our clinic in Nicaragua, I have come in contact with individuals who carry different cultural communication styles and I was able to better navigate myself through conversation because of my knowledge of what may be culturally appropriate or not. What I’m most excited for however, is going to Nicaragua and visiting the clinic in the near future and using my Spanish along the way.
Susan Dix Lyons was your professor at PUC – how did that relationship lead to a job?
Susan Dix Lyons was my Newswriting and Reporting professor at PUC. Upon taking her class and seeing how invested she was in her students, I knew instantly I wanted to continue working with Susan in whatever way I could. A year after taking her class, I sent Susan an email with hopes to intern for her and Clinica Verde but I was very anxious because I didn’t have much experience at the time. Thankfully, Susan immediately responded with an excited and warm response that she would love to work with me and even mentioned a journalism piece I wrote during her class. Although I’m now graduated and working for Susan, I continue to learn from her on a daily basis. Just like when she was my professor at PUC, Susan guides me and helps me grow professionally and intellectually.
What has been PUC’s involvement with Clinica Verde over the years?
PUC students have been great supporters of Clinica Verde for the past few years! Several teams in Professor Michelle Rai’s Fundraising class launched successful fundraising campaigns to support the cause and PUC alums Daniel DeCaires and Suwanna Vantananan continue to serve the organization. PUC Senior Jayson Paw was also an intern for Clinica Verde last spring. In addition, PUC’s Off-Road Triathlon was developed in partnership with Clinica Verde and serves as a benefit to support the work the clinic does serving mothers and children living in poverty.
Tell us about the GivingGrid Campaign and its goals.
The GivingGrid campaign is one of our current fundraisers. Our goal is to raise $8,100 for our Prenatal Nutrition Program which supports expectant mothers, and provides them education about the care and nourishment of their babies during and after pregnancy. While $8,100 seem like a small amount, it will go a long way in Nicaragua. The program will work with pregnant women from rural communities to teach fetal development and maternal and child nutrition through presentations, activities, and use of our bio-intensive garden. We just completed our pilot of the program and our hoping to continue this work to transform the lives of the mothers and children we serve. The GivingGrid campaign is an interactive way our supporters can join our cause. Supporters simply click a square with the amount they wish to give and add a picture! Also, supporters who give $100 or more will receive an etched brick on the Clinica Verde grounds in Nicaragua.
If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?
If I could go back and tell my freshman self one thing, it would be to never be afraid of reaching out to our PUC professors. One of the greatest advantages of attending PUC is our professors truly care about their students’ success and want to help in whatever way possible. People may be surprised with how many opportunities I received by simply sending an email to a professor. I now have lasting, close friendships with many of my professors and know I can still reach out to them for help and they’ll always respond warmly.
Editor’s Note: Visit www.clinicaverde.org if you’re interested in learning more about Clinica Verde or how to get involved in the HIGHER program.
If you feel compelled to donate to the GivingGrid Campaign, you can donate at www.givinggrid.com/clinicaverde.