Alison Ercole, Nu'11, GNu'14

Alison Ercole

Country/ies of focus


Host Organization(s)

The Banyan

Faculty Mentor

LaKeetra Josey, PhD, PMHNP-BC (Wendy Grube, PhD, CRNP, FAAN)

Fellowship Start/End Date

January 2018 - March 2018

Penn Nursing Degrees/years

Nu’11; GNu’14

Why were you interested in the Penn Global Nursing Fellowship opportunity?

All throughout high school I volunteered on medical trips abroad in Honduras. Then, while completing my BSN, I was able to take Penn’s Comparing Health Care Systems in an Intercultural Context course with a study abroad experience in India. At the time the fellowship was posted, I was working as an NP and even though I had experience and interest in global health, my day-to-day work did not entail it. When I saw this as an opportunity, I went for it.

How were your background and skills the right match for the needs of your host organization?

The fellowship was a perfect fit because The Banyan serves women with mental health issues, and I am a Psychiatric-Mental Health NP. The Banyan wanted help incorporating nursing care into their curriculum and I was already teaching at Penn. I thought it was the right match because I was able to combine the NGOs two needs with my expertise. I was anxious when I first applied because I didn’t think I had enough global health background, but I think the fellowship Is designed to help those who have an interest but may be less experienced.

How did your Fellowship experience meet, exceed, and/or fall short of your expectations?

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because this was the first global health fellowship Penn offered. I went in just being open to the experience and went with the flow. It exceeded my expectations because of the relationships I created and that are now maintained.

Do you feel you made an impact on the work of your host organization and, if yes, how?

I hope I made an impact- they seemed very open to the curriculum we created. I was able to go back to visit and complete more train the trainer sessions one year later. I’m still in contact with my host organization and it’s a great feeling to know we’ve fostered a lasting relationship.

Did you experience any personal and/or professional gains from this experience?

Personally, I think it helped me get out of the mundane, everyday life experience. Professionally, I think it helped launch me into the second part of my career and am now pursing my PhD with a long-term goal of working in global health.

Do you have any photos / videos from the experience you would like to share?

Do you have a favorite memory you would like to share?

At the end of my time there, they hosted a dinner for me. I was able to bring any guests I wanted. I invited the case managers and community mental health volunteers- they were pleasantly surprised because they didn’t realize how integral they were to my experience and creation of the curriculum.

Is there an accomplishment that brought you particular pride?

I was able to meet their goal of incorporating nursing care into their curriculum for community mental health workers in such a short time. But it was also the feedback that they felt I fit right into their community that brought me pride.

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Renfield Award Impact Talk: Dr. Vandana Gopikumar

Dr. Vandana Gopikumar, the 2018 awardee of the Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health, in a discussion moderated by Alison Ercole, MSN, BA, CRNP, PMHNP-BC, shared about the impact the award has had on her work.  Dr. Gopikumar is the Co-Founder of The Banyan and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, a nonprofit with the goal of promoting equitable mental health amongst socially disadvantaged groups, within a social justice framework. Watch the April 4, 2023 recording here.

Read MoreRenfield Award Impact Talk: Dr. Vandana Gopikumar