Campus Life

International student helps others by volunteering at local hospital

What started off as a volunteer position as a technician at the Baptist Healthcare clinic in Pensacola, Fla. led to a part-time job for University of West Florida nursing student Cristiane Barros. Originally from Recife, Brazil, Barros came to the United States in 2007 to participate in UWF’s English program. She decided to continue on with a bachelor’s degree and was accepted into the nursing program at UWF in 2010.

“My mom is a nurse, and I really love to work with people,” said Barros. “I chose to pursue nursing to continue to have that personal contact with patients like I currently have in my job.”

She plans to continue working for Baptist Healthcare when she graduates in May 2012, as she is very thankful for the opportunities they have provided her. Barros was fortunate to receive two scholarships from Baptist Hospital to assist with tuition and living expenses. In addition, she received a Latin-American scholarship from UWF. In Brazil, Barros explained that college students attend school all day, every day, leaving little room for working.

“I would have never been able to go to school if it weren’t for the scholarship from UWF,” said Barros. “I am able to work, go to school and take care of my son because of it.”

Barros first learned about UWF through her brother who also attended UWF as an international student and earned his undergraduate and MBA. Childcare on campus made it easy for Barros to attend college, while ensuring her 8-year-old son was taken care of.

The International Affairs Office at UWF has been a tremendous help to her throughout her journey, explained Barros.

“They are great in supporting international students and helping to guide us in the right direction while we are here,” said Barros. “They’re like a family to me.”

Barros’ dream is to become a traveling nurse and travel Europe helping people.

“I especially enjoy working in geriatrics. Most of my volunteer hours have been working with seniors,” said Barros. “I just want to travel and help people at the same time.”

Barros is traveling to Madrid, Spain, soon and is planning on volunteering at hospitals in the area.