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Journal of American College Health publishes research paper by WVU Potomac State College student

Katrina Roxas wearing dark blue WVU School of Nursing scrubs.

West Virginia University Potomac State College Bachelor of Science in nursing graduate (Class of 2022), Katrina Roxas was published in the Journal of American College Health earlier this year. Her research paper, “Homesickness among rural Appalachian university students” grew out of her own experiences and those of fellow students.

Roxas immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 2015 and just two short years later relocated to WVU Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va., to begin her college journey. In addition to becoming acclimated to a new culture and a new country, Roxas now had to adjust to college life, and she soon began experiencing severe homesickness.

While serving as a residence assistant, Roxas saw how homesickness affected some students to the extent that they decided to drop out of college. Her focus was to help students overcome homesickness and spread awareness that they are not alone in this by providing students with the help, interventions, and resources they needed to overcome homesickness.

“I started the Honors EXCEL program with the goal of helping fellow college students overcome homesickness, especially since I had personal experience with it and I saw how it impacted my life in both positive and negative ways,” Roxas said.

According to the American Nurses Association, the essential character traits of a nurse include integrity and advocacy, empathy and compassion, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and excellent communication skills. Roxas has displayed those qualities from the time she arrived on the PSC campus.

"Katrina's passion for helping students who experience homesickness came through in all her Honors program work. The lessons learned from her research will have a long-lasting impact on how we support students as they acclimate to college life and being away from home,” said Nursing Department Chair Dr. April Shapiro. “She has opened our eyes to the extent of this problem and strategies we can implement to further promote a sense of family and belongingness among students."

The Honors College Upper-Division Experiential Learning Program (Honors EXCEL Program) supports WVU undergraduate students in experiential and community-engaged learning. Experiential learning allows students to apply their knowledge and skills to projects they are passionate about. While creating scholarly products, students develop skills in leadership, project management, communication, and collaborative scholarship.

Using her critical thinking and problem-solving skills, Roxas implemented two on-campus events to help students who were experiencing homesickness – Speed Friending and the Buddy System. These events offered students a support system and sense of belonging while they acclimated to campus life.

While a student at the College, Roxas served on the PSC Conduct Board Committee and as a PSC Diversity Ambassador, advocating for students. As a member of the Student Nurses Association, she volunteered her time at various nonprofits and assisted living facilities by providing compassionate care to elderly residents as well as fun activities.

During the pandemic, Roxas spent summers interning at UPMC Western Maryland in the Intensive Care Unit, volunteered her time to perform COVID-19 surveillance testing, and volunteered at vaccination clinics.

“I am very thankful for the instructors who provided me with so much of their time, effort, and insights. I could not have completed this research paper without their support, especially Dr. April Shapiro, who worked with me every step of the way; Behavioral Health Therapist Michelle House; Nursing Instructor Dr. Diana Niland; and Biology Professor Dr. Sheri Chisholm,” Roxas said.

Roxas is currently focusing on a new chapter in her life, serving as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at a medical center near her hometown. Future career plans include continuing her education in the nursing field so she can one day become a mentor and teacher to others who are seeking a career in nursing.

Her research paper can be located at the following link: