Angela Baird will put her new nursing degree from Mennonite College of Nursing to work by joining Africa Hope, a ministry of New Mission Systems International, working with church, government and civic institutions in Kenya.
As part of Africa Hope, Baird will spend three years volunteering her time to provide medical care to villages through mobile clinics, work with community education and serve in the Africa Hope office. “Bringing medical aid to those who do not have access to it has been my heart’s passion and dream,” Baird said. “To see it coming to fruition is exciting along with the lives that will be changed and the life lessons that will be learned. I am amazed by the thought of relationships that will develop and the experiences that will bless so many lives.”
Baird graduated from Mennonite this month and said her time there was “wonderful, stressful, tiring, rewarding and so much more.” She credits teacher Dianne Clemens as “playing a huge role in my enjoyment and interest in the psychology/mental health area of nursing,” noting that she was “remarkably knowledgeable and encouraging about the topic and the importance and excitement of the field.” Baird said teacher Lynn Kennel made her experience in OB/Parent Child and Community Health “outshine the rest with her passion, caring and love for others and for nursing.” Baird added that both professors took the time to invest in the lives of their students in the nursing program.
Baird credits a trip to Port Au Prince, Haiti, where she worked with doctors and nurses to deliver free medical aid to those in need, as turning her interest away from early childhood teaching to nursing. A second trip to Kenya, focusing on HIV/AIDS education, solidified her desire to become a nurse.
Baird, a Bloomington-Normal native, said she knew she wanted to attend Mennonite College of Nursing because she kept hearing amazing things about the program and about their standing as a nursing institution. She said her fellow students “played a huge role in encouraging, supporting and laughing with me for the past two years.” Baird added that she made life-long friendships with her peers, including fellow student Tara Jacoby who also graduated in May. “I think it is vitally important to have at least one person in your college career with whom you work, study, laugh, cry and encourage,” Baird said, noting that Jacoby was that one for her.
Baird said her parents Doug and Patty along with her brother Micah and sister-in-law Mary have been her closest friends and biggest supporters in her life. Micah and Mary plan to travel abroad to Italy to start a campus ministry in the near future. Baird said her current hobbies include painting, drawing, camping, fishing, hiking, boating, bicycling and going to garage sales and thrift stores. Her interests include taking a role in combating global issues, enjoying the beauty of nature, investing time in people and learning about life in general.
Baird is planning to keep in touch with some of her professors who have “helped and encouraged me through my time in school and in preparation for my career in overseas medical work by finding resources and summer work opportunities as well as providing recommendations. They will be a vital resource to help me provide my patients with the highest quality of care.”
The future is wide open for Baird as she contemplates working with the World Health Organization or Red Cross to combat global crises and/or do outdoor nursing. Whatever nursing career path Baird chooses will include “using all the skills I learned in classes at Mennonite for the rest of my life.”