Peace Corps Volunteer Pursues Nursing as Coverdell Fellow
Teachers can play a pivotal role in charting one’s path.
For Logan Marx, it was his high school Spanish teacher who sparked his interest to learn about different cultures.
“I had this incredible Spanish teacher who just gave me a love for the Latino culture. That opened my eyes to the possibility of studying abroad during college, which I did, which made my desire to know more, learn more, and experience more grow,” Marx said.
That cultural wanderlust sent him on a road to becoming the USF College of Nursing’s first Coverdell fellow — a global-centered program tailored for returning Peace Corps volunteers seeking a nursing degree.
Marx grew up in Dallas, Texas, and went to college at the University of Arkansas, where he majored in Spanish. While there, he also minored in math, biology, and Latin American studies, all the while on a pre-med track.
He knew he would ultimately land in a health-related field. He just wasn’t sure in what capacity.
“For me, personally, serving others has been one of my main focuses in my career path. I knew since I was little that serving others was my main goal,” he said.
In his junior year, Marx studied abroad in Mexico, where he observed how health care is delivered outside of the U.S. as part of a medical school rotation.
During his final year at the University of Arkansas, he grappled with the ideas to either apply to medical school or “do something out of the ordinary.”
He chose the latter.
“I specifically remember I was sitting in genetics class and I said to myself, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to apply to the Peace Corps.’ So I started doing the application in my genetics class,” he said.
He applied for posts in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. But due to scheduling conflicts and availability, he accepted a two-year, health-related assignment in Ecuador.
As a community health specialist, Marx worked to promote three main goals: healthy lifestyles, improved hygiene and sanitation to prevent mosquito-borne diseases, and increased sexual and reproductive health.
His site assignment placed him in Puerto Hondo working with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, focusing mainly on HIV impact mitigation. Not only did he live within the community — a small town with about 600 people — but he also lived at the level of the community and experienced their daily lifestyle.
He said working closely with HIV patients and their families and seeing how social and emotional factors affected their treatment and healing process was eye-opening.
“Ecuador was my way of getting 2,000 hours of clinical experience. My whole experience in Ecuador completely changed my perspective on health care, and that’s what made me decide nursing was the route that I wanted to go,” he said.
He recently finished his three-year commitment in Ecuador. After the first two years, he stayed on an extra year as a volunteer leader developing new sites and supervising and training new volunteers.
“A common thing you hear among Peace Corps volunteers is that we end up getting way more out of our community than we ever put into it. So at the end of my two years, I just felt like I owed Ecuador more. I owed more to my community,” he said.
It was during that year extension when he decided to apply to USF. The USF College of Nursing is among a handful of U.S. universities that offer returned Peace Corps volunteers a chance to earn a bachelor’s in nursing through the Coverdell Fellows program. Most others are at the graduate level.
Marx added that USF’s focus on global health, working in multicultural settings, and its Global Citizens Project were definite pluses. He’s also excited about the opportunities to study community health abroad.
He was able to spend a few months at home in Dallas, Texas before starting classes at the College of Nursing in January. But he’s still transitioning from Peace Corps leader and volunteer to global nursing student.
He says the process of coming back was difficult. Life in the U.S. is easier and more comfortable.
“Every day in Ecuador was always engaging. We were constantly learning through every single interaction, from the store owner below me to the lady who sells bread down the street. Here in the States, I feel like life has been smooth, and you know, I’m not really about that.”
While only a month into the 16-month fellowship, Marx says he is “100 percent” certain that pursuing a nursing degree at USF is exactly where he needs to be.
And his global experience and Spanish skills have already been useful.
On his first day of clinical visits at Tampa General Hospital, he met a woman from the Dominican Republic who was preparing to have her leg amputated. He was able to converse with her and her family in their native language, and that seemed to make all the difference, for her and him.
“It just reassured me that nursing is the right path,” he said.
And he has his high school Spanish teacher to thank for that.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing