Lauren Winokur served as a Health Advisor in the town of Arizona, in the state of Atlántida on the North Coast of Honduras, from February 2010-2012.  As part of her service in the Health Project, she had three counterparts:  the local health center, high school, and a self-support group for people living with HIV.

In the health center she gave health education talks (charlas) as people waited to be seen, and worked with the center’s group of Promotoras on pertinent health issues in their villages. Within the high school system, Lauren educated over 500 youth on HIV prevention, and trained a group of 30 students as peer-educators.  She also led the Peace Corps’ HIV prevention initiative in Honduras, and trained 60 incoming Peace Corps Volunteers on how to provide HIV prevention presentations.  In the city nearest to Arizona, Lauren’s work in their HIV treatment clinic involved giving trainings to their self-support group on healthy living with HIV.  As a leader on the Peace Corps Healthy Living with HIV initiative, she helped organize and lead a three-day training-of-trainers workshop with 60 attendees from support groups, clinics, and hospitals in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

Outside of her health- related projects, Lauren participated in a number of community-based projects throughout the town:  facilitating a neighborhood girls’ group; working with the municipal women’s group and environmental education group; and starting a women’s soccer team.  Lastly, she teamed with the mayor and a local artist to paint a mural in town.

Lauren always believed in the power of healthcare to connect people on a human level, and her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer reinforced this belief. It solidified that health education is empowering, but also that the relationship between provider and patient needs to be open and strong for the patient to get the care they deserve.  Lauren decided to pursue nursing because it combined everything that she valued about health education—the honesty, creativity, and excitement involved in making otherwise complex health issues understandable and relatable—with clinical expertise to make a tangible difference in patient’s lives.  Her service in the Peace Corps gave her the empathy, patience, humility, and perseverance it takes to be a great nurse. Lauren holds the firm belief that everyone deserves high quality care, no matter their background or circumstance, and believes her Peace Corps experience, along with a Penn Nursing education, will allow her to work towards making that belief a reality.