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From Health Promotion to a Future in Flight Nursing: Peace Corps Volunteer Andrea Goodrich

Andrea Goodrich hiking and also seen in her FCN nursing student uniform outside Driscoll Hall
Andrea Rich shifted from Peace Corps volunteer to nursing student as a Coverdell Fellow in FCN's Second Degree Accelerated BSN track.

Returning Peace Corps Volunteer Andrea Goodrich is a 2020-21 Coverdell Fellow and a student in the Second Degree Accelerated BSN Track (BSNExpress). Coverdell fellowships are offered to returned Peace Corps volunteers to provide financial assistance to advance their higher education, foster professional experience with underserved populations, and further the Peace Corps mission at home.

Andrea served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Pilpichaca, Peru, focusing on health promotion within the community, specifically for women and young children. This mission was well-aligned with her undergraduate Public Health and Spanish degrees from The University of Vermont, as well as the BSN degree she is now pursing in the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.

Her primary focus as a community health volunteer, her emphasis was on breast feeding, early stimulation and empowerment to reduce the risk for domestic violence. Using a peer education model, Andrea prepared women to engage in health promotion in their communities, checking in on pregnant neighbors and neighbors with young children. She observed that low birth weight and maternal anemia were widespread issues. Critical moments offered opportunities to reinforce disease-reducing strategies such as hand-washing and boiling water for drinking, cooking and washing foods and dishes. One of her accomplishments in Pilpichaca was the creation of a greenhouse garden. A secondary focus was a peer education program in the area of sex education for adolescents, to break the cycle of teens bearing children and leaving school and reduce the occurrence of sexually transmitted infectious diseases.

Upon her return in 2015, Andrea became a guide in Glacier National Park during the summers and spent her winters training volunteers in the safe conduct of outdoor adventure experiences for Special Olympics athletes through the organization, Dream Adaptive.

“I thought about going to get my master’s in public health, but after researching both MPH programs and nursing programs, I found that nursing would give me the more hands-on experience that I enjoy and the ability to foster relationships with the people I’m directly working with,” Andrea noted in making her academic decision.  

Villanova’s Nursing program specifically stood out to Andrea because of her initial connection to the school when touring colleges in 2008. In addition, she is very proud of the work she did with the Peace Corps and appreciated immensely an institution that recognized that service. Andrea is open about the difficult transition to an online learning format but is very happy she decided to pursue nursing. She also emphasizes that, despite the difficulties that this COVID-19 pandemic has brought everyone, “all Villanova nursing professors and staff have been so supportive and easy to work with and talk with about anything.”

After successful completion of her program, Andrea hopes to pursue emergency medicine, attributing much of that interest to working as a Wilderness First Responder as well as a backpacking guide in Glacier National Park while in the Peace Corps.

Andrea’s dream position is to be a flight nurse on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. “Montana is so remote, and things can go wrong in the backcountry. I would love to combine my two passions of the outdoors and helping people into one,” she adds.