Jenny Lapke


Catalyst for Change

Jenny Lapke ’14 has taken six trips as part of a medical mission to the African nation of Zambia. When she returns in July, she’ll be able to actually treat patients after earning her nursing degree and license. 

“Once you go, you want to keep going,” Lapke explained. “A smile goes a long way. Every interaction with a person is so monumental.”

She became involved with the Zambia Medical Mission through her pediatrician mother, whose colleague is its U.S. medical director. The organization is one of the largest recurring medical mission projects in the world. The three-week annual trips include six days of field work under grueling conditions. “We’ll work as long as we can to make sure everybody is cared for,” Lapke commented. 

She recalls working by flashlight in the school bus pharmacy to ensure patients received their medications before the medical personnel left for the next location.  “I think my experience over there has helped me in my classes here,” Lapke said. “And my classes have given me confidence and knowledge.” 

Lapke’s work extends to canines. A confessed dog lover, she has taken her dog, Maddie, to do therapy work at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Currently, she is working with Tilly, an Aussiedoodle rescued from a puppy mill and being trained as a service dog through Paws Giving Independence. 

Of her Zambia trips, she noted, “I said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after the first trip. I guess it’s six times in a lifetime now.”