As a girl in Nepal, Nabina Bhattarai ’20 witnessed how devastating it can be when individuals don’t have access to quality, affordable health care. Families are forced to make heartbreaking choices; chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension become life threatening. Bhattarai knew that shouldn’t be the case. That belief followed her when she moved to the United States in 2010. By the time she arrived on the Le Moyne campus in the fall of 2016, she was certain that she wanted to dedicate her professional life to caring for others, but she wasn’t sure how – until she discovered Manresa.
Named for the Spanish city in which Saint Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises, Manresa is a personal and professional development program that integrates learning, meaning, calling and career. Over the course of their time at Le Moyne, students known as Manresa Fellows work with faculty and staff Manresa Mentors to complete four one-semester seminars centered on the themes Become You, Values in Action, Meaningful Success and Think Forward. Through careful, guided reflection, they discover who they are and what they want their impact on the world to be. Manresa opens doors to internship, community engagement and job-shadowing opportunities. But more than that, it helps students to build character and resilience rooted in Jesuit values, explained Bhattarai.
“The best part about Manresa is the sense of community it creates,” she said. “It encompasses academic, social and spiritual life in a way that I couldn’t have imagined before I started the program. Whether you are wrestling with what your major should be or what activities you should pursue, Manresa will help you to reflect upon what is best for you – personally and professionally.”
Bhattarai was particularly moved by a talk led by Vice President for Mission Integration and Development David McCallum ’90, S.J., in which he encouraged Manresa participants to consider where their talents meet the world’s needs. She began asking herself a series of important questions: Who am I and how can I discover myself? What do I love and why do I love it? How can I see myself growing and what are my next steps? After a careful process of discernment, she realized that her calling is to be a physician assistant. Not only will it allow her to care for and develop relationships with her patients, but it will also enable her to give back to her community, just as she has always wanted.
She has already caught a glimpse into what that life may look like, having helped lead health seminars on blood pressure control and diabetes management for Syracuse residents living in public housing and worked as a student nurse assistant at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center. Those experiences have helped her to refine the skills and reinforce the values that will guide her throughout the course of her professional life.
That is music to the ears of Associate Director of Career Advising and Development Leslie Streissguth, Bhattarai’s mentor during Become You.
“Manresa is intentionally designed to help students like Nabina develop the critical understanding, values and purpose that will serve as the foundation for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives,” Streissguth said. “As they grow throughout their time at Le Moyne, they achieve greater clarity about their values, discover how they may most effectively put those values into action, and cultivate a sense of success as a way of living built around ongoing self-development and service to the world around them.”
The Manresa Program is part of the $100 million Always Forward campaign, which was publicly announced in June of 2018.