Written by: Megan England
OKWU Nursing Professor Heads to Africa
When Nursing Professor Rebecca “Becky” Le talks about her dissertation, her passion is contagious. You can’t help but be drawn in by her laughter and her rather incredible journey as a missionary nurse and doctoral student. Her mission to care for and defend “the weak and the fatherless” as the Psalmist writes, has defined her career.
“It’s kind of a long story,” she says.
Her doctoral program began about three years ago, but the real story goes back to her first short-term mission trip to a primitive, mountain community in Mexico. “It touched my heart in a way that changed me forever,” Becky recalls. “I felt called to missions at that point and I thought at the time it was going to be long-term missions. But to make a long story short, I’ve continued with short term missions, including the adoption of my two children from different countries.”
Her travels have taken her all over the world, but with every place and situation, Professor Le says she wants to focus on the same thing. From patient to patient and student to student, Becky’s heart and soul is her mission to “be Christ’s hands and heart, in that moment, to that person.”
When she began her doctoral program, Professor Le knew that she wanted her dissertation to reflect her love for global nursing care, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. In July, her dream was recognized as she defended her research: “The Effects of Caretaker Training on the Emotional and Physical Needs of Institutionalized Orphans”.
And then her eyes light up and she explains that this is where her story gets crazy.
Professor Le’s research will take place in a Ugandan community she connected with via a missionary friend who lives there. They made a plan last spring to begin the research in September, when Becky would be able to travel to Uganda. As they were setting the dates for the trip, Becky was also preparing for her comprehensive candidacy exam for the doctoral program. Part of her preparation was research on the theorist she is basing her dissertation on—Jean Watson.
As she sorted through information on the theorist, Professor Le happened upon a call for abstracts to present at University of South Africa conference. The conference—held during the dates of Becky’s already-planned Africa trip—is led by none other than Jean Watson. Becky applied and was accepted to present at the conference. “I couldn’t make this up if I tried”, she says, laughing.
Her presentation will focus on measuring five major developmental skills of the children, then training orphanage workers on simple things they can do to build those skills.
“It’s an adventure and a journey…I’m using the profession of nursing and research to hopefully quantify that we can make a difference and use that as encouragement for more people to go out and break the cycle.”
Professor Le’s story is one of God-ordained coincidences emphasizing a lesson, she says, “to always say ‘yes’ to the Lord, even if it means going to Africa.”