There are many challenges one can face when pursuing a career path. For Vanessa Louis-Jeune Dolce, an international student from Haiti, that included overcoming a language barrier and significant cultural changes.

Dolce had worked for 8 years as a general practitioner and family doctor in Haiti. It wasn’t until her husband received a scholarship for psychology from Ozark Christian College that she considered moving to the U.S.

“It took me a year to agree because I would have to go to school all over again,” said Dolce. “So, I agreed to move if I got to go back to school in the medical field. All I knew was that I didn’t want to do nursing.”

She spent her first semester in Crowder’s medical assistant program before realizing that she had chosen the wrong field.

“At that time, I couldn’t speak English, so I had gotten medical assistant and physician assistant mixed up.”

Dolce then applied to be in MSSU’s care studies program instead but unfortunately, she didn’t get in.

“That’s when I met Dr. Sherry Whiteman and she asked me if I would consider going to the respiratory therapy program,” Dolce explains. “I wasn’t so sure because I had never heard of it before, but then I understood that it would be a great tool for my previous knowledge and for my country where something like this doesn’t even exist.”

Not long after, she got accepted into the program and began studying at MSSU. During her time here, Dolce has been nominated for the professional honor society and the Spirit Award.

“She has worked unbelievably hard to get through the program,” said Dr. Sherry Whiteman, Department Chair of Respiratory Care. “She had to go through a lot of trials to get where she is today.”

“I plan to bring this program to my country at some point after I get more training,” said Dolce. “For now, I am staying around Joplin.”