Last month, 2016 NMC graduate Edris Fana expected to see his parents for the first time in eight years, when they were to travel from Kabul, Afghanistan to Traverse City for his wedding to fellow alumna Emma Smith.
Instead, their wedding date, Aug. 15, became the day that Fana’s home country officially fell back to the Taliban, the Islamic military regime that resumed control of Afghanistan amid the final withdrawal of U.S./NATO troops after a 20-year presence.
“Everything just went downhill,” Fana said, adding that his parents have visas to travel to the United States, but cannot get a flight. (Very limited air travel resumed last week.) “To see it fall like this, it’s crazy to think about it.”
As the first international student to lead NMC’s Student Government Association, Fana, now 27, once aspired to apply that experience back home, and work in the government of the fledgling democratic republic.
“That was my all-time goal,” said Fana, who studied aviation. As the SGA president, he spoke at both the 2015 and 2016 commencement ceremonies.
“Coming from a place that I didn’t have the opportunity to practice leadership, or to have any experience of what I was capable of, it was NMC that presented me with opportunities to grow,” Fana told the audience in 2016.
April 8, 2020
Over the last few months, in between her nursing shifts in a Kalamazoo hospital’s medical intensive care unit, Karissa Havens followed the worsening COVID-19 epidemic as it swept from China to Europe to the United States.
The Traverse City West High School graduate, who attended NMC from 2013-2014 before transferring to Western Michigan University for her nursing degree, knew she had the skills to help both patients and overwhelmed hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots. She felt called to go where they were desperately needed.
Next week, she is. Havens, 24, has accepted a six-week traveling nurse position in a COVID-19 ICU unit at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. She was able to find a job within two days of deciding to leave Kalamazoo.
“I am completely humbled by this opportunity and ready to give everything I can to help fight this terrible virus,” Havens posted on Facebook announcing her move.
She will arrive in New York on the heels of 2015 nursing graduate and adjunct instructor Callie Leaman. Leaman, an ER nurse at Munson Medical Center, arrived in the epidemic’s epicenter Tuesday. She is working in midtown Manhattan at New York University Langone Health in a COVID-19 ICU unit.
Havens has not yet cared for any COVID-19 patients at her current hospital, Bronson Methodist, but she and her colleagues have researched how the disease has progressed in countries ahead of the U.S., studying patient presentation and care protocols.
“I don’t know if anything will really prepare me,” Havens said. For instance, Mount Sinai is establishing a tent annex in Central Park, directly opposite its building, to care for patients.
At NMC Havens took nursing prerequisite courses, including cell plant and ecosystem biology and chemistry. She remembers instructor Greg LaCross’s classes as among her favorites. She was also on the Dean’s List.
“I have no doubt she has made a difference in people’s lives, especially now, when our healthcare workers are so needed,” LaCross said.
She first considered going to Detroit, another hot spot, to help out her home state. But Detroit hospitals weren’t taking first-time traveling nurses. A licensing issue cropped up when she considered Chicago. But her qualifications were welcome in New York.
Havens begins work at Mount Sinai April 14. Her contract runs through May 31, though she expects it will likely be extended. It’s been most difficult to find affordable housing, though she thinks she’s found a temporary place. It’s a half-hour commute from the hospital, so she hopes the city keeps public transit running. She feels as ready for the challenge as she can be.
“I don’t have any kids, I’m not married. It’s just me and a dog. I’m the perfect candidate to go,” Havens said.
Her dog, Zaas, will stay with her parents in Interlochen. As for the general public, “Keep quarantining, and if possible, try and donate blood,” Havens said.
Do you know a helper or hero with NMC connections? Please share stories of students, instructors, alumni and community members stepping up during the COVID-19 epidemic by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 22, 2020
NMC students from NMC’s Western Religions course examine the Derry Murals and the sordid history of “The Troubles” in Ireland.A near-record number of NMC students will study abroad in five countries this spring, gaining experiences to help them succeed in an increasingly global society.
Seventy students are registered to travel to Iceland, Ireland, Spain, England and Brazil. The previous high was 73 in 2015. Between 60-65 students have traveled each of the last three years, ranking NMC the No. 1 community college in Michigan for short-term study abroad, and usually in the top 25 nationally.
Globetrotting 2006 GLCI Grad Finds Home In Southeast Asian Hotel Kitchens
Nexus Summer 2019 From Our Kitchens Feature
Hospitality has been part of Dustin Baxter’s life since high school, when he worked for his parents at Pippins Restaurant in Boyne City. He’s combined that background, a talent for pastry and a love of travel into an international career, working in three states and four countries. He says learning new cultures and adding his own style to unique ingredients (like 27 varieties of pineapple in Thailand) is his favorite part of working abroad. He offers a refreshing summertime dessert with ingredients native to Thailand but available in the U.S.
“This is the opening ceremony where we met our students for the first time. Several students prepared dances and songs for us!” (pictured second in from right in front row)
Amanda Ufer is originally from Traverse City, MI. She graduated in the spring of 2015 from NMC with an Associates Degree in Science and Arts and transferred to Calvin College to study Math and Spanish, ultimately for secondary education.
I grew up in Traverse City along with my three sisters and always dreamed of traveling the world some day. I didn’t expect that I would visit three different countries before I turned 20! I spent 3 weeks learning Spanish in Costa Rica with my best friend and a long week in Jamaica with my senior class. By the time second semester of my first year at NMC rolled around I was itching for another trip somewhere. I heard about US-Brazil Connect (USBC) and thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t an English major or even an education major. I didn’t feel confident that I would have time to work with students online before, and after, the month in Brazil so I passed it up. The following school year Jim Bensley came into one of my classes to inform us about a study abroad trip and I couldn’t help myself from researching the trips to find one. I found the USBC trip again and had since changed my major from medicine to education.
So I decided I would somehow raise the money and make it a reality.
Alex Bondar and her team, “the Batatas.”
Alex Bondar will be a junior at Western Michigan University in the fall of 2015 and currently works at the NMC Student Life Office. She earned her associate’s degree from NMC in general studies and hopes to receive a degree from Western in education with a focus in English.
I grew up in a small town near the thumb of Michigan – Armada, with a population of less than 2,000 people, mainly white and mainly Christian. My only experiences in life were from Armada: you know everyone you see every day, that any trip outside of town was a brand new adventure, and that the idea of traveling the world is an almost impossible feat. Never did I ever think I would move to Traverse City a year after I graduated. But, after my first year of community college and at 19 years old, I moved 4 hours north to the Cherry Capital.
Enter Student Life, the first job I got when I moved to TC. It was a great way to get to know people since many students enter our office every day. Across the hall is the International Services and Service Learning Office, where Jim Bensley works. Because of our free coffee, many more than just students entered our office. Jim was one of those people. I got to know him and what he does, and that’s when I first heard the word: Brazil.