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Alum finds passion to care for others through mission trips

Jenn Vipond ’18 is on a mission – again.

After graduating this May with a nursing degree, Vipond decided to go on a mission trip before starting her job as a registered nurse.

Even at a young age, Vipond’s “missions” began on a smaller scale by serving people in her community.

“I did things like shoveling neighbors’ driveways or volunteering at weekend church retreats,” said the Sibley, Iowa, native.

In high school, Vipond knew that she wanted to be that person who provided comfort and care not only to patients, but also their families. When her grandfather was hospitalized with cancer, she saw the difference a nurse can make.

Jenn Vipond with her patient in Haiti
Jenn Vipond ’18 with one of the patients at the clinic during her mission trip with Mission of Hope Haiti.

“He had an amazing nurse who made things so much easier for my family even in such a difficult time,” she said.

After going on a mission trip with her high school, Vipond found a passion for helping and serving others through that opportunity. That is why she decided to continue mission trip adventures with Mission of Hope Haiti.

“Honestly, the first time I did a medical trip in Haiti, I just found it by Googling week long medical mission trips and Mission of Hope Haiti stood out to me so I signed up right away. That trip absolutely changed my life and I knew that I would return as a medical intern whenever I had the chance,” she said.

Mission of Hope Haiti is a Christian organization that seeks to transform life of every man, woman and child in Haiti through construction, medical care, education, providing meals as well as sharing the gospel. Vipond spent this summer as a medical intern and North American care nurse.

“Each day we pack up tables, chairs, diagnostic supplies and medications into a vehicle and drive to the village where we set up the clinic,” she said. 

The clinic includes a doctor or a nurse practitioner, a pharmacy, a table for translators to explain medications to the patients and a pastor.

On a typical day, Vipond counts pills, calculates and mixes medications to fill the provider’s prescriptions or care for other team members who get sick or injured during their trip.

She encounters unique stories that keep her motivated to help others. Vipond said that once during her mobile rotation, there was a woman with AIDS, who was breastfeeding her newborn. This presents a huge risk to the baby.

“We were able to give her formula and make sure she went to the clinic the next day. If she hadn’t come to the mobile clinic, her baby could have become very sick and could have even died,” she said. “We were also able to pray with her, and she was very grateful for that.”

Recently, travel from the U.S. to Haiti has been limited due to political issues, so Mission of Hope Haiti decided to expand to Turks and Caicos Islands, which have a large Haitian immigrant population.

“On July 12, I boarded Mission of Hope’s boat and spent 22 hours crossing a turbulent ocean to get to TCI. I will likely spend the rest of my summer continuing mobile clinics in TCI and helping out in whatever ways are needed,” she said.

This fall Vipond will move to Rochester, Minnesota, to work in the medical intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic. Besides that, she is not sure what the future plan is.

“I have considered grad school to become a nurse practitioner, doing some travel nursing, or doing full-time medical missions,” she said. “Maybe I’ll do all three! I am keeping an open mind and taking things one step at a time.”

Vipond has a word of advice for those considering going on a mission trip.

“If you’ve ever considered doing missions or serving others in a big way, try it just once and I promise it will change your life just as much as it changes the lives of those who you are serving.”