Raquel Battle made a promise to her dying father: She would establish the first hospice in their native country of Belize. Now, seven years later, her goal is finally within reach.

This coming January, Raquel expects to break ground on the foundation and begin the first phase of the Edlin Leslie Sr. Hospice in Dangriga Town in southern Belize. Ultimately, she’ll create a 12-bed facility that will also become the country’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified building.

A Walden University PhD in Health Services student specializing in Healthcare Administration, Raquel was chosen to represent Walden at the annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meetings in 2012.While completing a CGI U Commitment to Action pledge to contribute to the greater good, she took her first steps toward making her heartfelt promise to her dad become a reality.

It hasn’t been easy, but throughout everything, Raquel’s promise has sustained her. “I was very close to my dad, so leaving this legacy is critical—not only for him, but also for my kids. I want them to realize that when you make a promise to someone, you stick with it through fruition,” she says.

She travels to Belize five times each year while continuing to work as a behavior specialist at Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School outside Raleigh, North Carolina, where she now lives with her husband and three children. In addition to her family, career, and Walden doctoral studies, she is busy raising funds and seeking in-kind contributions from architects, engineers, and others with skills critical to her project. She has succeeded on both fronts, with cash donations increasing fourfold in the past year.

Another promise has provided further motivation. “In high school, I promised myself that wherever I might go, I would never forget the place I left behind. Online education has enabled me to keep that promise to myself, to be able to travel back to my native country and give back. In Walden, I found a place and community that allows me to embrace who I am, keep my promises, and give back to the country I love,” she explains.

Her doctoral program has also helped her project move forward. “My classes have educated me about the importance of collaborating with strategic partners and ensuring that the partnerships are mutually beneficial. With that knowledge, I was able to increase the donations from individuals and businesses.” These partnerships include Belize’s Ministry of Health, the Love Foundation, the Anglican Diocese of Belize, and Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja Dermatology.

With support from the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium training program and the American Association for the History of Nursing, Raquel started a home care program in southern Belize in 2010 to address the need for comfort at the end of life and hired a full-time nurse experienced in caring for cancer patients. She’s also promoting early cancer detection by offering free cancer screenings as part of her annual Battle Cancer five-mile walk.

This summer, she’s back to Belize for more fundraising. Her eighth annual Battle Cancer walk is scheduled for June 27, with a new feature added: a virtual walk that allows people anywhere to participate. She invites the Walden community to join her by registering at her organization’s website, Blissfulsage Foundation.

“I intend to stay true to myself and to Walden and ‘walk the talk.’ Leading this journey, I’ve discovered so much about myself that I would not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise,” she says.

Raquel Battle is just one example of the many Walden students using their education to change their lives, careers, and communities. To discover more, visit  www.WaldenU.edu/changeyourworld.

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