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Vermont Quarterly

Project helps students gain global perspective

Lauren Dobay ’13
Lauren Dobay in Uganda


Project helps students gain global perspective

Inspired by Uganda experience, nursing alumna advances microphilanthropy effort


By Jon Reidel G’06


Not a day goes by that Lauren Dobay ’13 doesn’t think about the people she provided care for in Uganda as a senior nursing student in the rural town of Kamuli. Forever etched in her mind are images of hallways lined with critically ill patients at the acute inpatient hospital unit where she worked—a facility that had almost no basic supplies or access to diagnostic testing.

“I knew I was in for a life-changing experience, and two years later I am still amazed at how it continues to impact me as a nurse and as a person,” says Dobay, now a nurse in Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Surgical ICU. “It was one of the most important experiences in my education and has forever changed my perception of public health.”

Dobay, who entered Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Critical Care Nurse Residency Program after graduation, also helped run HIV clinics, child immunization clinics, and made public health visits to remote villages around Uganda. “You learn to do the best with what you have," she says, "and you learn how to do it with grace.”

Moved by her experience, Dobay helped organize a microphilanthropy scholarship fund to help future nursing students pay for travel to Uganda as part of the travel course “Uganda: Public Health Nursing.”  Her effort is part of a larger initiative begun in 2012 by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS) in conjunction with the UVM Foundation to fund student-driven microphilanthropy projects. Students create proposals and spearhead fundraising efforts via social media and other marketing methods. Direct donations can be made on the UVM Foundation website.

“Microphilanthropy has been an innovative approach to engage our students in experiential learning and leadership through service, while building a culture of giving among their peers, young alumni and donors,” says Patty Prelock, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, who meets with students and donates personally and with CNHS dean’s funds to each project. “I have been proud of and impressed with their creativity, thoughtfulness, and diligence in developing and implementing their microphilanthropy projects over the last few years.” 

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