Ever since she was a little girl, Kelsa Katzfey, a freshman at WSU, has had a heart for kids. She has always dreamt of going into a career where she could invest in the lives of children. It wasn’t until she ventured to the country of El Salvador that this dream started to become a reality. Today, Kelsa is pursuing a degree in nursing to fulfill the dream that has been laid on her heart for years.

Dating back to some of her earliest memories, Kelsa has always been eager to find ways to serve those around her. From volunteering in the nursery at her church to working with people with special needs at a summer camp called Special Touch, her passion for serving those in need led her on a mission trip to El Salvador.

A Trip to Remember

In the summer of 2015, Kelsa felt a call on her heart to embark on a journey to El Salvador for a missions trip led by her youth group at Oak Creek Assembly of God church. On this trip Kelsa’s heart was greatly moved, if not shaken, by her experiences. The most impactful experience that she can recall so clearly to this day is the day she met an eleven year old girl named Reina.

“I met Reina on the fourth day in El Salvador in a small district where I was stationed for the day. She saw that I had a big camera with me and asked to take photos with it.”

Despite the language barrier between them, Kelsa and Reina formed a divine bond on that day over a passion they both shared – capturing beautiful life moments through the lens of a camera.

It wasn’t until later that a translator explained Reina’s story to Kelsa. She found out that Reina had been diagnosed with cancer only a week before they had met. Reina’s family was very poor and they were unsure if they could afford the medical expenses of her treatment.

“I have no way on contacting [Reina], so I don’t know what happened to her. I can only pray that she got the medical help she needed.”

Despite being heartbroken by the terrible news she received from the translator about her little friend, Reina, Kelsa chose not to let her heartache hold her back. Instead, she saw a major need in this world that she could help fill.

“[Reina’s] story is what made me want to come back to the US, get my degree in nursing, and go back to countries like El Salvador to help little kids who have stories similar to Reina’s. El Salvador is where I knew that I wanted to serve others as an occupation for the rest of my life.”

Pursuing Her Calling

The call on her heart to pursue a nursing degree is what eventually led her to WSU. Kelsa was originally drawn to the nursing program here at WSU because we have been recognized as being one of the best nursing programs in the midwest. However, that was not the only characteristic that caught her eye when looking at WSU. The beautiful scenery around Winona as well as the opportunities WSU offers to nursing students outside of the classroom are what stole Kelsa’s heart and convinced her that WSU was the place for her.

“WSU offers an opportunity for you to travel for a clinical experience in a different state or even country. They also have clubs or organizations such as FIMRC or Medlife where you can travel to third world countries that allow you to see what the health care is like in other parts of the world.”

These opportunities are a perfect fit for Kelsa because upon receiving her nursing degree, she hopes to get involved with Nurses Without Borders to help care for children in third world countries who have cancer.

“This organization recruits doctors, nurses, nurse anesthesiologists, and other medical staff to serve in other countries for 9-12 months, caring for/treating populations in other countries and providing medical care that might not be readily available in their community.”

When asked why this specific organization and career choice has been laid on her heart, Kelsa explained, “It allows me to go where not many people want to go and love on and care for kids who may have never been cared for before. Whether I make money or not is definitely not of concern but having a job where I can help those who need it most is much more fulfilling than any amount of money.”

More Than An Education

Kelsa’s willingness to use her degree to help others and set aside her own financial abundance is not only contrary to the standards and norms of our society but also greatly inspiring. It is my hope that the lives of children with stories similar to Reina’s will be touched by Kelsa’s faithfulness to pursue the call that has been placed on her own life.

“I have been called to set aside my own wants and needs and go out into the world to pursue others. I love people. I couldn’t imagine having a job where I couldn’t care for others.”

This story has touched my heart greatly and I hope it has inspired you as well. For Kelsa, her education is more than just getting an A on every Anatomy exam. Rather, it is a stepping stone in the journey of pursuing the call on her life to serve a purpose greater than herself. It is about the people that she will impact and the lives she will change upon receiving her degree.

Liked Kelsa’s story? Meet more awesome students in the More Than a Major Series!