MIAMI — Nursing students at Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Benjamin Leon School of Nursing have prepared hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies, shoes, and personal items for children in the impoverished, disaster-prone area of Gonaives, Haiti.
The project is part of a community service class taught by MDC Nursing Professor Marie O. Etienne.
Etienne is a distinguished recipient of this year’s Florence Nightingale Medal from the American Red Cross.
She is the only honoree from South Florida among the five
American nurses receiving the prestigious award, which the highest international distinction a nurse can receive.
The 32 outstanding medal recipients hail from 16 countries and will be awarded at a ceremony on Oct. 23 in Washington, D.C.
The medal, awarded bi-annually, recognizes
exceptional courage and devotion to victims of armed conflict or natural disaster. It also recognizes exemplary service or a “pioneering spirit” in areas of public health or nursing education. Port-au-Prince native Etienne, who joined MDC’s renowned Benjamin Leon School of
Nursing more than 10 years ago, has been called a transformational faculty member.
“I challenge my students to overcome their limitations and to always strive for excellence,” said the educator who holds a doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of Miami.
Etienne also has demonstrated nursing excellence outside of the classroom, as when the 2010 earthquake devastated her hometown in 2010. She was one of the responders who aided
survivors as part of the Haitian American Nurses Association of Florida, Inc. (HANA), which she has served as president (2005-2007) and board member.
“I believe that God has given me the gift of aiding people,” said Etienne, who recently returned from training nurses in Léogâne, Haiti. “Everything I do in my life is about helping others.”
She will distribute the backpacks on her upcoming trip to Gonaives, July 11-14, where she will
provide exams and medical treatment to families and local children, including about two dozen orphans who lost both parents to the quake.
“Dr. Etienne is one of our outstanding faculty members who is instrumental in our students’ success,” said Armando Ferrer, president of the Medical Campus.
“She is also conscious of inequities in our community and internationally and searches for ways to provide care for the underserved and in need. She is one of the great assets on this campus and the communities we serve,”