Nursing Major Earns Opportunity to Study in South Africa

SIOUX FALLS, SD - A transition from sprawling open spaces to a teaming city awaits Augustana sophomore Lauren Stephens.

In January she begins a five-week home stay in Durban, the third most populous city in South Africa. After that she will traverse the countryside mingling with the people and health care providers, learning from them what it will take to reach her professional goals. She returns to Augustana in May.

Stephens grew up on ranch in western South Dakota near St. Onge. Raised around Black Angus cattle, her early ambitions leaned toward veterinary medicine. Eventually, nursing won out and she chose the excellent program offered at Augustana.

“Lauren is in many ways an all-Augie student,” said Ben Iverson, Associate Director of International Programs at Augustana. “She is very bright, talented, outgoing, and will undoubtedly become a leader in the health care world after her time at Augustana.”

“As a study abroad advisor, I know that the IIE (the organization that administers the Gilman Scholarship) made an excellence choice in selecting Lauren,” Ben Iverson, Associate Director of International Programs at Augustana, said.

Earlier this year Stephens applied for a Gilman Study Abroad Scholarship. The program seeks to promote diversity in study abroad in terms of ethnicity, background, socioeconomic status, major, gender, study abroad destination, and more. “As a very good student, a nursing major, and wanting to study health care issues in South Africa, Lauren was a great candidate,” Iverson said.

Having earned the award, Stephens will spend the spring semester studying with the School for International Training’s Community Health and Social Policy Program. Through the program she will focus on topics such as the relationship between traditional healing and western medicine, prenatal care, access to health care, and health education. Building on a multidisciplinary and historical analysis of health in South Africa, the program explores critical issues and initiatives in a nation where health policies have achieved mixed results in addressing health problems.

“One day I would like to be an international traveling nurse and I couldn’t find a more ideal program,” Stephens said.

With a population of 3.5 million, Durban is the busiest port in South Africa. In addition to experiencing the practice of medicine in the city, Stephens will also have home stays with rural community health workers and shadow them on their daily rounds.

“I’m excited,” said Stephens. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Stephens is a graduate of Belle Fourche (SD) High School. She is the daughter of Devin and Joann Stephens.

Bruce Conley
Director, News Information
Phone: 605.274.5526
Fax: 605.247.4903