three students pose side by side

Pictured left to right: Cynthia Schofield, Natalie Solano, and Gabriella Cervantes

Aug. 3, 2022

By Hayden Burfitt (UNLV School of Nursing Student Worker - Communications)

Recently, three members of UNLV School of Nursing’s student government worked together to donate money to victims of the May 2022 supermarket mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. Through something as simple as a bake sale, students Cynthia Schofield, Natalie Solano, and Gabriela Cervantes not only helped those in need but learned about community nursing outside of the Las Vegas Valley.

Rise to the Occasion

Among UNLV Nursing’s student government’s normal duties is community service. Learning of the Buffalo incident, the group brainstormed ideas of how they could help. “We threw out ideas for different organizations that we could donate to,” Solano explained. “Then we stumbled upon their GoFundMe. It was an easy way to donate, but we were trying to find ways to make that happen.” When the trio brought up the idea of a bake sale, fellow members reacted positively. “When we had our student government meeting, [members] all seemed [to think], “Oh, that’s a good idea,” Schofield said.

Support In Solidarity

The team set up the sale for their classmates at school, offering a cookie for $2 (as well as points for members of UNLV’s Student Nurses Association). “We didn’t think we were going to have too many people engage, but it went well,” Solano said. Initially planned for only one day, the sale continued for the next two days due to the positive turnout. “Some people even decided, ‘I don’t need cookies, but I want to donate,’” Schofield explained. 

The three students attribute the overwhelming support, in part, to the fact that their own community has faced a similar situation in the past, alluding to the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in 2017. “I think some people feel that [it] does make a difference,” Schofield said. “We’ve experienced it, so it’s probably more touching or hurts a little bit more to see other cities are going through the same thing. I think that’s why a lot of people were inclined to make donations.” Solano elaborated, saying, “As nursing students, we’re going into a profession where we’re helping people that are injured or ill. Even if some [of us] weren’t here for the October 1 shooting in Vegas, a lot of us still have that passion towards wanting to help people.” Cervantes agreed, stating, “I was here during October 1. There is some resemblance to feeling that sadness to other cities. It’s sad to see, but there’s a relatable factor to it.” 

Outcome

By the end of their sale, the team raised $232 and came out with a greater understanding of how nurses can act as community champions. “Advocating was an important part of this service project,” Cervantes said. Solano followed up, saying, “As nurses, we’re often told we should be advocating for our community and trying to make an impact. I feel that comes off as very overwhelming. When we do things like this, it shows us that there are small ways that we can make an impact.” 

Overall, the project was considered a success, and the group hopes to start more small-scale activities in the future. “We didn’t realize how big of an impact we could have,” Solano admitted. Schofield agreed, saying, “It showed that we should do this more often. It can spark a conversation about issues out there in the world, even if it’s not directly affecting us. If I could do something over, [I would] start doing these projects three semesters ago.”

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