Alone and late at night, after her classmates went home and the rest of the island was sound asleep, Angie Chang would go walking around the island in search for those in need.
“I would climb fences,” she said. “By an abandoned garage by Ban Thai, I found a family living in there. They had no diapers…nothing.”
A then-nursing student at the University of Guam, Chang would go looking for those in need to drop off food and supplies. Sometimes she’d compel her classmates to go with her. There was even once she helped her then-instructor Dr. Margaret Hattori-Uchima over a fence to witness those families whom Chang worked so hard to help.
“She wanted to see what we saw,” Chang said. “I pushed her over the fence, and she got to see with her own eyes.”
Chang’s drive and fearlessness to find and help Guam’s homeless population stemmed from the one thing she believes all nurses are called to do.
“We have that compassion in us,” she said. “As a nurse, it should be second nature to want to help people.”
Chang, now a clinical case manager working for Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, said she draws from her experiences in the nursing program at UOG to find the resources her clients need.
“One of our biggest jobs for clinical case management is to provide optimal care outside of the hospital for patients with complex health problems where they won’t have to continually come to the ER,” Chang said.
UOG and Post Grad
During her time at the University of Guam, Chang and a group of nursing peers were assigned a community assessment project based out of Anigua. The assignment tasked the students to interview members of the community to identify their health needs and survey their access to health and wellness services. From the interviews they conducted, the group decided to collect canned foods and other donations to give back to those in need.
“And then it got bigger,” Chang said.
What started out as a class project grew to a multi-organization and island-wide community effort to help Guam’s homeless population—with Chang as a driving force.
As a student member of the Guam Homeless Coalition, Chang partnered with the Salvation Army to get trucks filled with cases of food and drinks to deliver to Guam’s homeless. She and other volunteers would park outside of soup kitchens and hand out supplies. After a while, Hattori-Uchima became involved and still continues to grow what Chang started. Now, years after Chang graduated, Hattori-Uchima uses her as example for future nursing majors to perpetuate the legacy of compassion Chang began.
“Angie is an excellent example of a student achieving the outcomes expected of a nursing student,” said Hattori-Uchima, now Dean of the School of Health at UOG. “Through her application of theoretical concepts in the field, she was instrumental in highlighting the needs of the homeless population to the nursing program. She was able to combine her knowledge learned through the program and contribute to the community of Guam.”
After graduation in 2009, Chang left for the states and worked in home health case management in Ohio for a few years before her husband was reassigned to San Antonio, where she’s now getting her masters in Family Nurse Practitioning from Chamberlin College of Nursing.
But Chang said the foundation she learned while studying and graduating from the University of Guam set her up for future success.
“This is the best nursing curriculum you can get,” she said. “Many of our nurses are extremely successful after completing this program. All the projects I worked on, everything I did through nursing at UOG has stayed with me and made me want to further advance so that I could continue to help people.”