When Kendra Nusbaum was looking for the right university, two requirements were non-negotiable—the university must have travel abroad opportunities and a reputable nursing program.

In 2018, Nusbaum toured Winona State University after hearing about its nursing program. Not only did it have her two personal requirements, but also it had an extra focus that, for her, meant a lot.

While walking through campus, she looked up and saw banners with the phrase, A Community of Learners Improving Our World.

“It literally spoke to me,” she said. “That’s what I’m all about.”

Later in the tour, she spoke to Nursing professors about her dream to pair a Spanish major with a Nursing major. Instead of pointing out the challenges of double majoring, they cheered her on in support of her making the most of her four years.

Winona State had checked every box. And it was here that she thrived, not only in her double major, but also in her craving to improve the world.

Nusbaum was selected for the MN Campus Compact Award, in addition to the WSU Award, for her service to communities, both locally and globally; her passion for engaging others in community service and partnerships; and her “ethical obligation to advocate for those who do not have a voice.”

She was also selected as one of the Outstanding Students of Spring 2022 for WSU’s Nursing program.

For Nusbaum, it all centers around her passion to help people and eliminate language barriers—especially within health care.  

When COVID-19 hit her sophomore year, Nusbaum was studying abroad in Chile.

After two months of being abroad, she had to return to the U.S. before the borders closed.

Although her time abroad was cut short, she was determined to have meaningful experiences in other places that still combined her passions for Spanish and Nursing. 

Little did she know that she wouldn’t have to travel to another country to find it.  

While participating in the Population Health Clinicals, Nusbaum realized that the Winona area has a high percentage population with Spanish as a first language.

She also realized that nurses with her skillsets can come in handy during appointments.  

On one specific day, Nusbaum helped a client through their entire appointment with the encouragement and support of her professors Kathryn Frie and Autumn Cole.

“Coming home and knowing that I played a role in that person’s ability to receive health services is a feeling I hope I never forget,” Nusbaum said.

Finally, in August 2021, Nusbaum got to do more traveling when she went to Guatemala for a medical service trip, while working alongside doctors in local clinics.

It was such an impactful trip that when she came back, she felt the need to share the experience with other students.

Nusbaum served as the campus coordinator between Vida Volunteer and students at Winona State by reaching out to health students who were Pre-Nursing, Pre–Med, or Pre-Dental, and then assisting them with travel arrangements or answering any questions they had.

Then over spring break, she traveled to Costa Rica with the students she helped.

After her experiences in Costa Rica and Guatemala—both working with doctors snd helping set up clinics in schools, churches, and community centers—Nusbaum came back with a “renewed enthusiasm” and a deeper understanding the importance of healthcare personnel body language and bedside manners to patients.

“My goal throughout college and throughout all my studies was to eliminate language barriers,” Nusbaum said, “even if that means not necessarily focusing on what you’re saying but what you’re communicating to your patient through your body language.”

In January 2020, she wrote in a journal entry that a piece of her heart will always be in Chile. 

And now, she has officially bought her ticket back and will be returning to Chile after graduation.

To keep herself motivated for future adventures, she uses her journals to remember the big wins, and the lessons she learned, that seemed small then but grew as time went on.

“I learned so much by just being open,” she said. “It’s so important to be open and put yourself in a new culture to let them teach you.”

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Grace Wagner

Grace Wagner '22 is a Public Relations student who enjoys all things outdoors. During her time at WSU she has been involved on campus from Student Senate to Dancescape to being a Resident Assistant. She is very appreciative of the community Winona provides and plans to use the knowledge she's gained from WSU to work with small businesses when graduated.

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