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Future nurse to use Spanish to help patients

By : Eric Coker

Kimberly Campbell had just finished a lonely freshman year and was wavering on a decision to study law when her mother showed her a journal saved from middle school.

“The teacher had asked, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ I wrote, ‘In 10 years, I see myself graduating from college on a full scholarship and being a nurse,’ she said. “I never remembered writing it, but I guess it was a sign.”

Campbell, who was already familiar with the Decker School of Nursing thanks to her suitemates, became a nursing major the next year and has not looked back. She also majors in Spanish and plans to combine the two in future endeavors.

“It goes hand in hand with nursing,” said Campbell of the language she pursued during a study-abroad trip to Costa Rica in 2007. “I’ve come in touch with patients who can’t speak English and I feel as a nurse you should be able to communicate with your patients.”

One of those communication efforts gave Campbell a research idea. She was working at a local psychiatric center when a patient was crying because he had to euthanize his pet dog.

“There was nothing I could do to console him,” said Campbell, 23, from the Bronx. “It was painful to watch. I’d never had a connection to an animal and I really wanted to help him. I never thought that pet loss or pet grieving was a big issue.”

Campbell consulted with Mary Muscari, associate professor of nursing, and came up with a research investigation.

“She has developed and utilized her own tool on nurses’ knowledge of helping people who have experienced pet loss,” Muscari said. “She is analyzing the data and plans to publish the results.”

Campbell presented an article on the topic last summer at the McNair Scholars Research Conference in Buffalo.

“My survey asks nurses: ‘What have you done in this situation? What do you do when a client experiences pet loss?’ I want to see if nurses think this is something we should be concerned about.”

Besides being a double major in a demanding field, Campbell stands out as a Gates Millennium Scholar. The full undergraduate scholarship is awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is the nation’s largest minority scholarship program.

The scholarships can be used to pursue degrees in any major at the school of the recipient’s choice.

Campbell also serves as a mentor to urban children through JUMP Nation, works as a receptionist at the Discovery Center Library and is the vice president of the Binghamton University Gospel Choir. The latter combines two things that are important to her: spirituality and song.

“I enjoy performing,” she said. “It keeps me sane and balanced. I like the expressions on people’s faces when I sing to them. Music is so therapeutic. I’ve even sung for my patients.”

After graduation, Campbell hopes to become a family nurse practitioner, earn a PhD and work with an ethnically diverse population in which she can use her Spanish skills.

“Binghamton has been the perfect place for me,” she said. “I’ve been able to do so much and the faculty have been helpful and supportive. Because of Binghamton, I know I’ll have a good future.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08