UW School of Nursing E-news
November 2008  |  Return to issue home

Fellowships Open Doors to the World

Jane Silver
Second-year BSN student Jane Silver checks a patient at a birthing center in Bali, Indonesia.

Even before she was accepted into the School of Nursing’s BSN program, Jane Silver was dreaming about the opportunities afforded by the school’s emphasis on global health learning experiences.

Silver, a birth doula in Seattle, has a longtime interest in health disparities. She has worked as a doula with low-income women and families and has traveled extensively for work, volunteering and study.

When she was notified earlier this year that the school had selected her for an R. Hunter Simpson Global Service Learning Fellowship, Silver saw it as a wish come true.

“This was a dream for someday,” said the second-year BSN student. “Truly, this experience wouldn’t happen at all without the Simpson fellowship behind me.”

The fellowship provides recipients with $5,000 to cover airfare, tuition and other expenses. It is named after R. Hunter Simpson, a Bellevue High School graduate who died of brain cancer in 2005 at age 18.

Since childhood, Hunter Simpson was driven by his Christian faith to live simply and act generously, his family said. He spent weekends serving hot meals to the homeless in Pioneer Square and summers helping build homes for the poor in Tijuana, Mexico. His dream was to travel the world helping people.

The fellowship was established by Hunter Simpson’s father, Brooks Simpson, to enable School of Nursing students to engage in service-learning experiences while exploring health care in different cultures. The first Simpson fellow was named in 2007. A gift from Chris Simpson Brent, Hunter’s aunt, made possible two additional fellowships this year, including Silver’s.

Silver spent six weeks in Bali, Indonesia, in August and September, assisting in a birthing center and studying the country’s health care system and how the birthing center’s work fits into it. She believes that the up-close look at health care in another culture will give her a broader perspective and context for her future work as a nurse, enabling her to think more creatively about how health care works and how patients and families interact with the health care system.

A second BSN student, Chelsea Whitney, also received a 2008 Simpson fellowship that will allow her to travel to India this winter to observe and work alongside local pediatric health care providers serving disabled children and their families.

Whitney and Silver follow the inaugural Simpson fellow, Fuqin Liu, a third-year PhD student who traveled to Vietnam in 2007.

For Liu, the experience of providing health care and education in rural areas cemented her desire to focus on policy and research¬—to impact global health at a global level. She traveled with a team of health care providers to mountainous northern Vietnam, where they saw more than 1,000 patients, some of whom had never seen a doctor or nurse before. Liu said providing “that human touch” to people was a moving experience. “But I also reflected and questioned how we can do better at a global level,” she said.

The experience also influenced the direction of Liu’s proposed doctoral research among rural Chinese women. Rather than looking at the impact of Western-style prenatal care on them, Liu is now crafting a proposal that will focus on how the women use their own customs and knowledge to care for themselves in pregnancy.

“The Simpsons open doors for people” through their fellowship program, Liu said. “It’s not only generous of them, but visionary.”


November 2008  |  Return to issue home