Alumni Spotlight: Juan Quesada’s desire to heal creates a global nursing adventure

February 24, 2014

juan and childJuan Quesada dreamt of becoming a doctor to help the underprivileged in his native country of Peru. So far, his life-long pursuit of that goal has taken him from Peru to Tucson to Minot, where he earned a Minot State University nursing degree, to the Andes Mountains with a service project, to Bismarck, where he currently works as a nurse in St. Alexis’ Intensive Care Unit.

In 2007, Quesada attended community college in Tucson. When he was ready to transfer to a four-year university, he could not find an affordable one in Arizona. Looking online for options, he discovered Minot State with its straight-line tuition model.

MSU’s affordable tuition rate initially attracted Quesada, but the attention he received during the application process sealed the deal. Everyone at MSU made the application process seamless.

Quesada lived in a residence hall the semester prior to his acceptance into MSU’s nursing program and experienced the university’s rich campus life. He liked the size of MSU’s classes, which enabled him to get to know faculty well. He met professors outside of nursing, such as Kevin Neuharth, who taught his “Fundamentals of Speech” class and encouraged him to get second major in public relations.

“I got access to everything at MSU, experienced the changes, such as the new and renovated buildings, and became involved in the International Club my first semester in 2010,” Quesada said. “Overall, I had a good experience, and the nursing program prepared me well to become a nurse.”

After participating in a 2011 exchange trip between MSU and Universidad Alas Peruanas, Arequipa, Peru, Quesada devised his own service project. Through Awamaki, a small nonprofit that improves economic and social well-being in rural Peru, he canvassed door to door immunizing poor children in the Andes’ Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu. His maternal grandparents, who always stressed the importance of education, grew up in the Sacred Valley. They left it to escape poverty.

juan giving an injectionQuesada plans to become a doctor and return to his home country, where an advanced nursing degree would not be accepted. He feels fortunate to be a nurse.

“The patient contact an individual gets as a nurse is unbelievable. It will prepare me to be a doctor,” Quesada said. “The actual time you spend with the patient and their family makes you a better nurse.”

Although he likes ICU because of the varied medical situations, Quesada is passionate about public health nursing. Its global impact prevents diseases and saves countries money. He has gained skills, such as the ability to improvise, in the Andes and ICU, which will help him realize his dream someday.