USF pre-nursing student to take trip to Zanzibar and Tanzania
Mary Bennett Bracalente, a pre-nursing student from University of South Florida College of Nursing, will go on a mission trip to help build a school and teach children in local communities of Zanzibar and Tanzania, East Africa in summer of 2013. Bracalente is taking this life-changing trip through Growth International Volunteering Excursions (GIVE) organization, which helps improve human lives through building essential community infrastructure, implementing environmental solutions, and integrating sustainable development.
Bracalente will be working with GIVE volunteers for more than two weeks to help build a spacious middle school for children in Zanzibar. According to Bracalente, the community’s current middle school is relatively small, and each classroom is packed with more than 100 students. She will also help run several after-school programs for children in those communities.
USF pre-nursing students Mary Bennett Bracalente and Sean Upshaw (L to R) will travel to Zanzibar and Tanzania.
“By building this school, GIVE will provide space in every classroom, will give more children the opportunity to attend school, and will also give them more individualized attention,” Bracalente said. “During the after-school program, we will teach them about proper health care, help them work on reading or other homework, and stress the importance of staying active and engaging themselves in sports.”
Bracalente is currently in the United States Naval Reserves through a Naval Nursing Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship, and is in the Buccaneer Battalion with USF. She hopes be accepted into the USF Nursing baccalaureate program and graduate from USF by May 2016.
In the meantime, she wants to continue to reach out to people in need around the world and make a difference in their lives.
“I want to learn about healthcare in countries that are not as fortunate as America,” Bracalente said. “And while I’m working on my Nursing degree here at USF, I would like to research about these issues, and see how they can be improved.”
Bracalente has started her community work early on. While attending high school, she volunteered as an intern, groundskeeper, and a lifeguard at Summer Camp Burnt Gin in Wedgefield, South Carolina from 2009 to 2011. During her three-year summer internship there, she worked with children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities, ranging from 7 to 25 years of age. Some of the children’s disabilities included downs syndrome, autism, mental retardation, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy, according to Bracalente.Bracalente while working at Summer Camp Burnt Gin in Wedgefield, South Carolina.
“I would not trade my high school summers at Camp Burnt Gin for anything,” Bracalente said. “That experience inspired me to take this career path and to become a nurse and travel abroad.”
She is also part of many USF and local organizations including USF Navigators, a Christian organization where students come together to fellowship and worship. She is also involved with Advocates for World Health, a nonprofit organization that collects medical supplies about to expire and distributes them to developing countries across the globe. She volunteers for the organization regularly, and plans to go to a health brigade with them at some point in 2013-2014 school-year.
“After I become a Naval Nurse, I also plan on traveling abroad to administer health care to young women that have been victims in the sex slave industry,” she said. “I hope to show people of all nations that they deserve the proper love and respect. One day, I also hope to obtain my Master’s degree, and teach nursing courses to aspiring nursing students.”