Ashia Graham ’24 Strengthens Passion for Nursing Through Ghana Immersion

Graham spent 10 days in Berekum, Ghana to gain clinical experience

Student Success

Aisha Graham attending the Blessing of the Hands ceremony for the first-year nursing students.

Attending the Blessing of the Hands ceremony for the first-year nursing students. In this photo, nursing student Ashia Graham is getting her hands blessed.

Iona’s Ashia Graham ’24 always envisioned a career in nursing. Reflecting on a recent clinical immersion trip to Ghana, she said her path has been enriched with newfound humility and respect. 

Caring for others in the city of Berekum, she witnessed the Ghanaian’s resilience and reverence for life, despite their limited resources, which had a profound impact on Graham. 

It wasn't just about healthcare; her hands-on experience became a lesson in empathy, cultural competency and patient-centered care. 

“We take so much for granted back home,” she wrote in a journal entry. “This is completely rewiring my perspective.” 

One particularly moving moment came during a blessing ceremony. An elder’s words, “Before you learn to care, you must care to learn,” resonated deeply with Graham. 

Nursing students Maria Morano, Bryanna Palamara, Ashia Graham, Camryn Abbate, Alexis Martinez

From left to right: Maria Morano, Bryanna Palamara, Ashia Graham, Camryn Abbate, Alexis Martinez

Forever changed, Graham now carries a renewed passion for nursing. Her most valuable takeaway? The transformative power of combining empathy with technical expertise for the benefit of all patients. 

“This trip has profoundly impacted my personal journey,” she reflected. “Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, even for a brief moment, is incredibly humbling.” 

Graham, along with four other Iona students, participated in a 10-day clinical immersion program with the Holy Family Teaching and Nursing Midwifery College and Hospital in Ghana. 

Students were placed in a rural hospital setting, where they had the opportunity to work alongside Iona faculty and Ghanaian nurses and physicians. This experience provided them with valuable insights into healthcare practices within an acute hospital environment. 

Read more about the trip here. 

Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.