Kate Hulbert was part of the 2009 Peace Corps Rwanda group which was the first set of volunteers to return to the country since the genocide and war of 1994. It was also the first group to be funded entirely through PEPFAR and each volunteer was placed in a job specific to HIV-related work. Kate’s post was in the small town of Gisakura, in the region of Nyamasheke, which many saw as a region that stood outside the country itself.
Kate was posted at a health center in a town of 1000 people that served a 27,000 catchment area. The health center had started their ARV program just two weeks before her arrival. Much of her first year was spent visiting patients’ homes to educate them on medication adherence, asking about their health, survey their living conditions, and identify their personal barriers to disease management. The second year she spent much of her time teaching staff how to run the accompanying computer program given to them, helped in the weekly infant nutrition program, vaccine promotion, maternal monitoring, and the children’s HIV club. Kate was also involved in a Peace Corps created girls camp, which was repeated with an addition of a boys camp the next year, a photography club, gardening trainings, and her hardest job, teaching English.
The time she spent at the health center sitting with women at nutrition screenings, doing intake for them when they arrived with a child with a chest cold, or sitting with them after giving birth, was the catalyst to pursuing her degree in midwifery. Her Peace Corps service drove her to nursing but it also taught her the importance of representation, of what it means to be linked to a culture through language, appearance, and presentation. It showed her what it means to stand apart in a crowd, what it means to be an outsider, to be the other, and the power of being embraced. It proved to her what it means to be an individual as a representative of a whole, for better or worse, and the personal responsibility that accompanies.
After Peace Corps Kate felt an obligation to seek out populations that may not have the ability to obtain a higher standard of care. She wanted to stand as representative for greater expectations in patient care and believed a Penn Nursing education would help her achieve this goal. Kate hopes to bring the standards of what a Penn provider represents to populations that have been left outside. To excel as a provider in her own right but also in representation of an institution that stands to upholds her own core values.