We first met Karyl May Gebeck, a 3rd year nursing student at the Southville International College of Nursing, at a Lifeline Community Medical Mission in Quezon City in 2009. She has since joined several Medical Missions and has travelled with other Lifeliners to the Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro; Floridablanca, Pampanga; Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya as well as other parts of the Philippines.
Karyl is originally from Chicago, Illinois and transferred to Southville in 2010. She is of Filipino-American descent and is loving getting to know her culture and heritage as a Filipina. Here she is in her own words.
1. What most motivates you to be a nurse? What are you most excited or passionate about?
I would say my motivation for being a nurse is my strong desire to see people living their life to the fullest, being healthy and happy. Firstly, I want to open my heart to understand what it is that people need most, whether it is physical, mental or emotional care. I want to be able to help people gain a holistic sense of health and happiness. I believe it’s not just the physical needs that a nurse should address, but the heart and soul of a person as well. I want to affect people in a positive way and be able to open myself up to them and having them change me, for the better, too.
2. How and why did you end up as a nursing student in the Philippines. What led you to here?
In 2009, I was talking with my mother about what career path I could take that I would really care for and love. I was working for a cancer research lab and restaurant before that, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. My previous Global Health Care degree gave me the knowledge and understanding of what was going on in the world, but not the skills to change things and really affect people on a personal level. She suggested I study nursing in the Philippines because I was a dual citizen. It was just a month later that I packed my few belongings and moved to the Philippines to enroll in the nursing program at Southville International College. Not only am I learning the skills and practice I’m passionate about, but also getting the opportunity to travel to beautiful places and meet beautiful people that share the same passions.
I am beginning to understand myself, as a Filipina, and love my culture and history from a completely different perspective. I have the sincerest gratitude for my mother, who was able to incorporate her Filipino values to me and now I am beginning to understand her on a whole new level. I now realize that becoming a nurse was not the only purpose for me to come to the Philippines.
3. Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life?
The people that have been most influential are my family. They have financially, emotionally and spiritually supported me whenever I needed it. They have been my rock and support to help guide me through life. They have always picked me up when I’ve fallen and showed me, with love and compassion, the things I can do to better my situation. My pastor and church congregation have been a part of my life since birth. My pastor has been a mentor and friend always willing to listen and guide me. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge my teacher, mentor and friend, Ms. Sue Agustin Sim who has emotionally and spiritually supported me since I moved to the Philippines. She has listened and offered advice on school, career and personal matters. I feel she rejuvenates my love of nursing and life, to always do my best, to live life to the fullest and always open my heart to others. I am closer to recognizing my path as a nurse and finding my potential with her guidance and love.
I was a high school senior in 2001 when the twin towers in NYC fell down. I watched in shock and sorrow, with my classmates and teachers, as we saw thousands of people lose their lives and loved ones. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to be right there, amidst it all, and help anyone I could. I knew, then, that I wanted to be a health care provider.
5. How did you come to hear about Lifeline?
My sincerest gratitude for my mentor and friend, Ms. Susan Agustin Sim, who was a teacher at Southville at the time. She approached me and my friend, Ednel Reformado, and told us that there was a medical mission with an organization called Lifeline coming up, and that she felt we would be perfect for. From that first medical mission, in Quezon City, Ednel and I fell in love with being a volunteer nurse. We have tried to attend as many medical missions as possible and love every experience. I feel we have motivated a number of our classmates to volunteer as well, and they love working with Lifeline too. Lifeline brings together people from any background, with any training, and allows them to come together for the sole purpose of selfless acts of love and care; whether it’s as a doctor, nurse, dentist, optometrist, student, business man or women, or home body. Everyone has something to contribute and the will to serve others is the only qualification you need. These people have made me feel like I’m part of a family and I am thankful for them. Thank you for giving people the opportunity to express their love for our fellow Filipinos.