From 2018-2020 Claudia Ruiz Calderon served as a Peace Corps Community Health volunteer in a small town in Southern Paraguay. Her work there fell under the goals of the health sector: reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, instill life skills and reproductive health in youth, and improve maternal, neonatal, and child health. Throughout her service she co-taught with teachers in their health classes to help educate students from 6th-12th grade on a variety of health topics. The majority of her teaching was focused on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education. Due to several factors, teenage pregnancy is a problem in Paraguay and Claudia wanted students to have enough knowledge to make informed decisions. Part of this education included sessions on self-esteem, healthy relationships, and effective communication. In her second year of service, over winter break, Claudia held a short camp for girls to dive further into topics pertaining to women’s health and wellness. Her goal was to create a safe space for girls to share their views and ask questions that they may not have felt comfortable asking elsewhere.

 Another part of her service focused on maternal and child health in the form of a Pregnancy Club at the local health post. Once a month, pregnant women would meet to have a prenatal checkup performed by the community nurse, discuss their pregnancies with other pregnant women, and listen to a presentation on a selected health topic. The goal was to help women lead healthier lives during their pregnancies and beyond. Claudia really enjoyed seeing the women progress through their trimesters and getting to hold their babies once they were born.

Claudia’s Peace Corps service helped her solidify her decision to pursue a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner degree. Her passion for women’s health was cultivated by her work in her community. As a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, she hopes to continue working with the populations that she worked with during my service.