Penn Nursing extols the importance of global experiences, and Jessica DiVanno is a perfect example of the significance of their impact.
When only 18, Jessica was given the opportunity to volunteer at an eye clinic at Ghana. This clinic provided thousands of site-restoring cataract surgeries for free, which enabled countless individuals to return to work and support their families. At the clinic, Jessica befriended a Liberian refugee who was a nurse, who dreamed of one day opening his own clinic when he returned to Liberia. Four years later, this dream came true, and Jessica traveled to Liberia to volunteer and attend the grand opening of his clinic. Inspired by her friend’s accomplishments as a nurse – now manager of his own clinic and minister of eye health for all of Liberia – Jessica was determined to follow in his footsteps.
While conducting research in the Emergency Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Jessica received even further insight into the different roles in healthcare. She was attracted to the nursing model of care, which looks at the patient holistically, as well as the opportunities that would be available to her as a nurse. “There is so much that a career in nursing can offer, from various clinicals, to research, to teaching, to consulting and management,” says Jessica. “I knew I could grow in a career in nursing and have the opportunity to have a significant impact both locally and globally.”
In addition to serving as a student representative on the Penn Nursing Alumni Board, Jessica also served as a research assistant at Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Equity, a volunteer at the United Community Clinic, a Graduate Associate at Penn’s Sansom Place, and a member of the Penn Boxing Team. In recognition of her tremendous accomplishments and commitment to improving healthcare, Jessica was also chosen as one of only 239 Health Services and Resource Administration (HRSA) Nurse Corps Scholars. Over 2,600 people applied for this prestigious government scholarship program which supports future healthcare professionals committed to reducing healthcare disparities for under-served populations. “Providing care and education to under-served populations is precisely why I became a nurse,” says Jessica. “I hope that one day I can work as a nurse in a clinic like the ones I was exposed to during my time volunteering abroad.”