By Matt Hawkins
Nick Chovancek ’18 gained new appreciation for quiet, yet vital tasks in military operations and diplomacy this summer. The nursing major from Oak Lawn, Illinois, participated in a monthlong cultural engagement tour of Estonia to start the summer, then interned at a military hospital in Virginia.
Chovancek, a Bradley ROTC cadet, valued the opportunity to practice medicine and explore a global culture in preparation of a military career.
“It was humbling to be in so many unique settings this summer,” he said. “It shaped my global perspective and allowed me to reflect on the values we, as Americans, hold dear. I’m more proud than ever to be an American, and I look to do everything I can as a future Army officer and nurse to help my nation and people.”
Chovancek traveled to Europe through ROTC’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program. The experience exposed the cadet to foreign affairs and military exercises in the Baltic region.
The busy month included cultural sightseeing, meetings with NATO forces, training with the Estonian army, volunteer work for mentally disabled residents and even a chance to walk in a parade.
It prepared him for a career that likely will span the globe and gave a new perspective on his academic pursuits.
“I’ve had many experiences that opened my mind and gave me more confidence in my abilities,” Chovancek said. “I’m better equipped to learn through the rest of my life, whether in classes on campus or working with leaders of a foreign country.”
After a month in Estonia, he returned to the U.S. for an internship at Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital, a facility located near Washington, D.C. He completed a 150-hour clinical experience that placed him in the intensive care unit, operating room and emergency department.
Exposure to the Department of Defense’s patient care system showed Chovancek new ways hospitals could support armed forces members and their families. He also picked up valuable knowledge about Army life from staff mentors.
“Working with ill patients in a high stress environment reminded me why I love nursing,” Chovancek said. “I got to help all sorts of people in their most dire times of need. It was as challenging as it was gratifying.”