Anna-Rae LeClaire ’14, of Sutton, MA, is a nursing major with a minor in gerontology. She is an Endeavor Scholar who has earned a 4.0 GPA.
Anna-Rae received the Outstanding Student Award from the National BACCHUS Network for her work in peer health education, traveled to Haiti to deliver healthcare to Haitian children, and for the last four years has devoted herself to community service at the YWCA. She was also selected for a one-year term as the Gerontological Society of America’s Student Ambassador.
Can you describe your experience as a nursing major at UMass Dartmouth?
I decided to study nursing after I started working at a local nursing home when I was 15. I knew that I wanted to work with people, and I loved caring for them. The College of Nursing at UMass Dartmouth is exceptional and I had the best experience going through the nursing program. The faculty are so supportive and they really try to get to know their students on a more personal level. I have great relationships with so many of my professors, and I believe that this has had a positive impact on my learning.
What role has community service played in your educational journey and your personal development?
When I was awarded the Endeavor Scholarship I found out that I would have to commit to volunteering, but I never knew how much of an impact it would have. Over the past 4 years I’ve committed over 800 hours of community service through my volunteer work at the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts, my service-learning trip to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and my work as a Peer Health Educator through the LiveWell Office.
I believe I won the BACCHUS Outstanding Student Award from the synthesis of my service and my dedication to improving the health of the UMass Dartmouth community.
I’ve learned a lot at UMass Dartmouth, but there are things that you cannot learn in a classroom: integrity, modesty, respect. These are the things that you learn through service. I'm so grateful that I've been given the opportunity to volunteer because it has completely changed my view of the world. I didn’t know what poverty or hunger was until I started volunteering at the YWCA and then travelled to a third-world country. I learned so much about my community and the world through service, but I also learned what kind of person I wanted to be.
How did you achieve that impressive 4.0 GPA?
I've always been successful academically, but I’m not perfect. A 4.0 GPA only reflects my ability to complete designed coursework, it is not a measure of intellect. I learn every day, and I don’t let myself settle. To be honest, I never really paid attention to my GPA or class rank until the College of Nursing gave me an award my junior year. Everyone is good at something and I just happen to be good at school. However, there are a lot of things I have to work on. I think the biggest challenge that I’ve had was actually challenging myself. I knew that I could earn good grades, but I wanted to push myself to do more. I picked up a minor in Gerontology and tried as many extracurricular activities and leadership positions as possible.
What is your role as student ambassador for the Gerontological Society of America?
My term as the Student Ambassador for the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) officially began in March. I’ve been working with the Director of the Ora M. DeJesus Gerontology Center, Dr. Andrew Revell, since my sophomore year. This year we applied for the Student Ambassador Program, and we were selected as one of the few schools in the country to have this position.
I started and developed the Gerontology Center’s first Facebook page, and we have increased our audience tremendously. I also helped plan our “Careers in Aging Week” in early April, where we hosted a panel discussion with professionals in the field of aging regarding different career opportunities. I hosted an informational table about the Gerontology Center various opportunities. I was one of several students to represent the Gerontology Center at our first Gerontology Reception, where the Center’s recent activities and research—including my research of older adult care in emergency departments—were presented. Moving forward, I hope to continue to update the Facebook page and to choose the next GSA Ambassador.
What are your plans following graduation?
Following graduation, I plan on working as a Registered Nurse while applying for graduate school for the summer of 2015 semester. I hope to enter the MSN-PhD program at UPenn so that I can become a Primary Care Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner on my way to completing my doctorate. I want to have the ability to practice, teach, and conduct research, so that I can allow myself the greatest number of possibilities. I’ll also be applying for a Fulbright Scholarship for next fall to earn a one-year Master’s in Public Health at Oxford University.
My service will continue as a volunteer or a member of the Board of Directors for the YWCA, and I hope to travel back to Haiti. There are so many things that I want to do, but mostly see as much of the world and make the biggest impact that I can!