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Alumni Reflection: How My Volunteer Year Influenced My Professional Career

Born and raised in upstate New York, my first exposure to Philadelphia was through Mercy Volunteer Corps where I completed a volunteer year at my service site, Mary Howard Health Center. Mary Howard is a federally qualified health care center for the homeless which is run by nurse practitioners. My role as a Patient Advocate was working to help bridge barriers that impact so many individuals experiencing homelessness while navigating health care systems. I attended procedures, advocated for individuals at specialty appointments, and most importantly supported the patient’s wishes and health goals. At the end of each day, I went home to my two Mercy Volunteer Corps community members where we shared meals and experiences and provided support to one another when the days were wonderful, unexpected, and everything in between. 

My experience volunteering in health care through Mercy Volunteer Corps is ultimately what led me to pursue a nursing career with goals and aspirations to work in community health. My year with MVC provided me with such a wonderful foundation of experience working with underserved individuals and that experience allowed me the opportunity to apply and receive one of the HRSA Nurse Corps Scholarships (Health Resources & Services Administration). This scholarship granted me the opportunity to attend nursing school tuition-free with a stipend towards living expenses.

I am so incredibly grateful for my Mercy Volunteer Corps experience. My MVC year is what provided me the experience and skills necessary to qualify for a scholarship that allowed me to financially afford to become a registered nurse. Now, I work with underserved and marginalized individuals experiencing homelessness on a daily basis.  

I am now a Registered Nurse working at Pathways to Housing PA; a Housing First, harm reduction organization, located in Philadelphia. All of the participants I work with have been impacted very heavily by homelessness and the opioid epidemic. I work to support the participant’s health goals and provide nursing care for those in need of medical assistance. Every day I go to work at Pathways, I realize how lucky and extremely grateful I am to work with such inspiring, resilient, and strong participants and staff who continuously work together to make a difference through housing, health care, and advocacy.

Hillary Miller: MVC Philadelphia Alumna

“None of us are home until all of us our home.” Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M

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