Out of the Jungle

Out of the Jungle

Katia L’Ecuyer’s neighbor had just cut himself with a machete and was in need of serious medical attention. Although trained as a midwife, Katia was able to quickly suture the wound and get him back to health. She had come to Costa Rica to live a more simple life running her own farm, but her training as a midwife offered her more opportunities to use her medical expertise than she anticipated. “I would help in any way I could,” says Katia. “When I moved to Costa Rica, I thought I was leaving midwifery behind, but people there just needed help.”

During her time living in Costa Rica’s jungle, she ended up helping with many deliveries and other medical emergencies, but Katia wanted to do more.

“There were times I would transfer a patient to the hospital and there was no obstetrician on call,” Katia says. “If I had the right skills, I could have helped that woman right there. But I couldn’t.” Experiences such as this helped her realize she wanted to do more. She decided to leave Costa Rica and pursue an education that would enable her to become a specialist in helping women with high-risk pregnancies.

Despite her vast experience, Katia lacked the academic checkpoints most universities require. Born in Quebec, she had college credits from Canada but had never taken the SAT. She had a degree in midwifery, but it didn’t qualify as an academic certification. For Katia, Utah Valley University’s open admission policy provided the perfect opportunity to restart her educational journey.

But that road wasn’t easy. Her husband struggled to get a visa, and the couple ended up spending over three years apart. During that time, Katia worked as the sole provider. Many days she would spend all night attending births, go to class during the day, pick her kids up from school, and balance her spare time between family and studying.

Exhausted and sleep-deprived, Katia decided it was time to get help. She applied for a scholarship and received the help she needed to be able to balance her academic life and family responsibilities. “This scholarship has allowed me to pursue my dream and has had a huge impact on my education,” she says. “I am inspired to know that there are donors willing to invest in my education and hope to be able to do the same for talented students in the future.”

Because of her scholarship, Katia has now built her own midwifery practice and spends more time with her children. “It enabled me to make a big transition,” she says. “I’m still able to do what I love and provide for my family while also being able to study and focus on academics.”

After Katia completes her degree in biology, she plans to continue on to medical school to become a perinatologist — a branch of obstetrics specializing in childbirth and high-risk pregnancies. She says, “My work is really with women and helping them have children. It’s a blessing to be in these women’s lives at such a pivotal moment. I hope to again be able to help people in rural areas and to acquire more skills I can share with others.”