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Grad embraces opportunities to bring her nursing and Spanish majors together

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: Lucy Hobbs found opportunities to bring together her nursing and Spanish majors through research, study abroad and other experiences during her years as a Blugold. The May graduate says those experiences are shaping how she sees her future in health care.

Lucy Hobbs came to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire already knowing she wanted to study nursing so she could make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Once she was on campus, she realized she could make an even greater impact on her future patients by adding a second major, this one in Spanish.

“I was drawn to nursing because I want a career that will be fulfilling and will help me serve others,” says Hobbs, a Somerset native who will graduate in May with degrees in nursing and Spanish. “I chose to add a major in Spanish because I love learning about other cultures, and I want to advocate for underrepresented populations in my nursing career.”

Her nursing and Spanish professors say she excels in both majors and will have a bright future in health care.

Given her passion for learning, Hobbs makes the most of every opportunity in and out of the classroom, says Stacey Stafne, a clinical assistant professor of nursing.

During lectures, Hobbs always is fully engaged, sitting in the front row and asking great questions, Stafne says. During her clinicals, she always is eager to perform new skills and find new ways to help the nursing team, she says.

“I appreciate how much she likes a challenge and how she faces those challenges confidently and with poise,” Stafne says.

It was rewarding to see Hobbs grow both in her nursing skills and in her confidence as she moved through the nursing program, Stafne says.

“Her critical thinking and bedside care has grown enormously,” says Stafne, noting that Hobbs impressed her during a recent pediatric clinical. “She was getting vital signs, listening to lung sounds, giving nebulizer treatments, doing chest percussions and calling the provider without missing a beat. It is remarkable to experience these changes that occur in nursing students and it was unforgettable to experience it with Lucy.”

In addition to her nursing and Spanish curriculum, Hobbs says she found multiple interesting ways to bring her majors together. Those opportunities included things like research and study abroad, she says.

Hobbs was part of a research project that is documenting the experiences of Spanish-speaking populations in western Wisconsin during COVID-19. The research team included students and faculty in languages, history and nursing.

Being part of an interdisciplinary team that was engaging with diverse populations during a public health crisis was an incredible learning experience, Hobbs says. It’s an experience that already is shaping how she sees her future work as a nurse, she says.

“My Spanish research opened my eyes to the amount of diversity in Wisconsin and helped me to learn about the lives of underrepresented populations and how COVID-19 has affected them,” Hobbs says. “This project is incredibly influential to me as a future nurse because it has given me tools to better understand the obstacles of the Hispanic population to receiving health care and to assist them in accessing resources that are available.”

Dr. Elena Casey, an assistant professor of languages, Latin American and Latinx studies and one of the faculty leads on the research project, says she is continuously impressed by Hobbs’ knowledge and skills, as well as by her compassion for members of diverse communities.

Hobbs’s two majors, nursing and Spanish, fit well with her interests and strengths, Casey says.

“Lucy brings to her university career a rare and invaluable enthusiasm for applying her Spanish and nursing degrees to community health and well-being,” Casey says. “She constantly seeks out and participates in public health initiatives, whether by leading her classmates in a discussion about how health care administrators can be more inclusive of their Latinx patients and providers, volunteering as a Spanish interpreter for COVID-19 vaccine clinics or dialoguing with Hispanic dairy workers about their experiences of the pandemic.”

Casey says Hobbs’ energy and positive attitude inspires everyone around her to think bigger and to work harder.

“I have seen how she shares this energy with her peers, using her zeal for learning and community engagement to enliven class discussions and create collaborative solutions to obstacles to communication and well-being,” Casey says. “Her future is full of promise, not only for herself, but also for the workplaces and communities she joins after graduation from UWEC.”

In addition to her research, Hobbs says studying abroad also was a life-changing experience. She spent part of the spring 2020 semester studying in Costa Rica.

“This was my first time outside of the U.S. and I learned so much about Costa Rican culture,” Hobbs says.

While she found many opportunities within her majors, Hobbs says she also had meaningful experiences on campus that were outside of nursing and Spanish. For example, she worked as a resident assistant in the dorms, was involved in intramural athletics and is a member of the University Honors Program.

“All these experiences helped me to enhance my time on campus by giving me opportunities to meet amazing and inspiring individuals who I believe will remain lifetime friends,” Hobbs says. “All these experiences also helped to shape how I think about the future by helping me learn about ways to better serve the community through my nursing career.”

Hobbs credits everyone from her nursing and Spanish professors to her friends to the staff in the Advising, Retention and Career Center with helping her succeed in her studies and in her job search.

After she graduates in May, Hobbs will begin her nursing career working in the emergency room at UW Health's University Hospital in Madison.

“UW-Eau Claire has prepared me to succeed in my future endeavors by providing a variety of programs and opportunities that I would not have had access to at other universities,” Hobbs says. “My advisors helped me to plan out my classes in a way that I was able to meet and exceed my own goals and expectations.

“I also had many supportive professors who encouraged me to reach my maximum potential as a student. I am so thankful that UWEC offers so many different opportunities.”