SUNY Morrisville nursing student touches the world through medical missions to Nicaragua

Published date
3 p.m.

While most SUNY Morrisville students were packing their bags for spring semester return to campus, Corey Evans was filling a duffle bag heading 3,000 miles in a different direction, on a different mission.

The 23-year-old SUNY Morrisville nursing student and Canastota resident flew to Nicaragua for a medical mission, a lifelong calling that impassioned his career helping others.

The mission took his team of 15 volunteers to various locations in Nicaragua, where they set up medical clinics in the underdeveloped country which faces significant healthcare challenges, including a shortage of doctors and hospitals and shockingly low health education. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where housing consists of sheet metal and brick and the average Nicaraguan makes $325 a month.

Four days prior to his second semester starting, Evans was given a chance to fill in for a member who was unable to attend the mission in Nicaragua.  

Professors helped him prepare for the start of the semester he would miss, having him complete labs and other work ahead of time.

The mission was Evans’ fourth through NICNY-New York Medical Mission to Nicaragua. Assisted by Enrich Missions, a non-profit in Nicaragua which helps children live up to their potential, they hosted four clinics and saw 1,008 patients in four days.

The most common medical issues were parasites from poor drinking water, dehydration, high blood pressure and wounds from working in the fields.

This past trip, Evans’ role was performing intakes and assessments, which included taking blood pressures at clinics they set up on-site in the morning. The team, which stayed in hostels in Matagalpa, was assisted by translators in the Spanish-speaking country.

“They were so happy to see us,” Evans said of patients. “These people have nothing but thanks for everything.”    

At 6’5,” children were especially intrigued by Evans’ height and his rainbow-topped stethoscope. And the bubbles the crew brought invoked smiles in countless children. “They go insane over bubbles,” he said.  

Prior to the trip, organizations held fundraisers to assist with medical supplies. In addition to medical care, volunteers also brought clothing, shoes, bandage supplies, gloves and hand sanitizer, items needed by doctors for their clinics in Nicaragua.

They also handed out bags of beans, rice and salt to families who came to clinics.  

Evans sought donations, too, raising $1,200 for Enrich Missions.

Evans’ philanthropy started when he was six years old, after viewing a volunteer’s presentation from a medical mission. “I knew my calling very early in life,” he said. “I am a man of faith and there has always been something inside of me to follow this.”

He gathered supplies and packed bags to ready others for missions until he was 13 — old enough to join them in person.  

That charge is intrinsic in Evans, who comes from a long line of family volunteers and employees in the medical field. A third-generation to work emergency medicine on ambulances, he volunteers with the Greater Lenox Ambulance Service and also works for Vineall Ambulance Services in Madison County.  

“The stepping stone to my career in nursing was when I started working with ambulance corps at age 16,” he said.

SUNY Morrisville is enabling Evans to spread his gift even farther as he pursues his associate degree in nursing, with a career goal to be a trauma nurse.

Evans transferred to SUNY Morrisville’s nursing program last year. “I knew it was a good program,” he said. “SUNY Morrisville is giving me all of the necessary tools to become an RN and the professors are phenomenal.”

When he completes his associate degree, he plans to transfer into the college’s online bachelor’s degree nursing program.

Reflecting on his most recent mission, Evans’ encounter with a child he had seen on his 2018 mission left a lasting impression. The boy, covered in burn scars, received advanced medical attention upon their referral, and was doing well.

Evans said experiences like this help make him a better nurse and confirm his desire to be in a medical-related field. “It gives you a special outlook in your nursing care. It is a compassion reset,” he said. “You see how little someone can have, yet be so thankful.”

SUNY Morrisville’s nursing program provides off-campus clinical rotations that give students opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of healthcare settings. Evans is currently doing a clinical at Hamilton Hospital.