Posted On



This September, Allison Robin, Emmanuel Alumni and Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Nurse, traveled to Ecuador with Global Smile Foundation.

The Global Smile Foundation (GSF), is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing comprehensive cleft care for patients in underserved areas throughout the world. Robin was a part of a team of medical volunteers providing specialized care for nearly 200 children born with cleft lip/palate at Hospital León Becerra, a children’s hospital in Guayaquil that serves a low-income population.

In areas with health inequity, access to specialized cleft care is extremely limited and costly. Without care, children and adults living with untreated cleft often suffer poor physical and mental health and are more likely to live in poverty.

“I decided to take this trip to Ecuador after a coworker told me about it,” she said. “I was excited about the chance to be part of a volunteer cleft care team, but I never expected to feel so close to the team after a short time. Everyone showed such positive energy and dedication to our patients.”

Robin attributed her experiences at Emmanuel in part of her reasoning to volunteer with GSF. She explained, “Emmanuel instilled a sense of leadership and the importance of understanding cultural perspectives in healthcare. I felt that this trip would help me grow as a nurse and understand the healthcare challenges that those less fortunate face.”

During her time in Ecuador, she participated in an integrated and multi-disciplinary team of cleft specialists. They performed 169 surgical procedures for 72 patients, ranging from newborns to teenagers. They also provided 73 nutrition and feeding consultations, 36 Speech Pathology consultations, 160 psychosocial sessions and 162 dental procedures. Robin described her experience in Ecuador as nothing short of memorable, “The amazing thing is that I came home feeling more transformed by this experience than my patients! I will never forget the look of pure joy on the faces of the parents when they saw their children for the first time after surgery.”

“I wanted to go to Ecuador to help change people’s lives,” said Robin, speaking on Emmanuel’s mission of service and social justice. “I think it is very important and rewarding to give back to humanity. I felt that I was making a difference by being a part of a team that was providing life-altering surgeries to these children.”

She reflects on her education at Emmanuel as her time in school influenced her development as a nurse, “I learned a lot about writing and research. Some of the courses that really stood out to me were Research Methods, Leadership and Professional Issues, Community Health Promotion, and Diversity in Healthcare.” She also thinks back fondly on her impactful professors during her time at Emmanuel saying, “Dr. Lisa Walsh and Dr. Sheila Silva were encouraging throughout my education.”

Learn more about Emmanuel's Maureen Murphy Wilkens School of Nursing & Clinical Sciences Graduate & Professional Programs

For more information about Global Smile Foundation, please visit

Allison Robin (center) and her coworker at Hospital León Becerra in Ecuador