Molly Kelly

Women’s lacrosse player Molly Kelly put her learning into practice as she helped to organize and lead a service trip to Puerto Rico as part of Catholic University’s Spanish for Health Care Program. The nursing major from East Providence, R.I., considered it the perfect challenge and a way to provide health care to those who really need it. 

The opportunity to lead the service trip came from Kelly’s own initiative. Having already completed a minor in Spanish and the Spanish for Health Care certificate, she reached out to Jennifer Maxwell, director of the certificate program, to see how she could continue practicing her Spanish in the nursing context. Maxwell presented the idea of the trip to Puerto Rico, where many communities are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Maria. 

Kelly was asked to help plan the trip as part of an independent study during the fall semester. She reached out to organizations in Puerto Rico with whom the students could partner to provide volunteer health care. Working with Maxwell, she also helped form an itinerary and make arrangements to aid communities in San Juan and Maricao. 

“The process ended up being a valuable management experience,” Kelly said. “It was a challenge since the trip did not exist previously, but it was fun to see how it all came together slowly but surely.” 

“Molly was pivotal in helping me develop, organize, and implement a new Intercultural Clinical Practicum in Puerto Rico,” said Maxwell. 

Kelly was one of 16 Catholic University students to participate in the spring break trip, including student-athletes Emily Tighe (women’s swimming and track and field), Marykate Higley (track and field), and Colin McNulty (football). The students participated in a free health fair and assisted people who were elderly or experiencing homelessness. 

Though she missed three lacrosse games while she was away, Kelly still had the support of her teammates. Before her trip, they surprised her with a large box of medical supplies to help Puerto Rican communities in need. 

“To have that unwavering support of your teammates and coaches rooting you on to be a better nurse in your career was really humbling for me,” Kelly said. 

Lacrosse Coach Meg McDonogh said the decision to let Kelly serve during spring break was a no-brainer. 

“When Molly told me about the opportunity, I was thrilled for her — such an incredible way of combining her academic pursuits while giving back,” McDonogh said. “All of us are so incredibly proud of what Molly was able to do, though we were happy to have her back at practice that Monday and for the rest of the season.”