Felicia Lindstrom finds solace in helping diabetics
Autumn Jarrett • College Times
Some grow up and instantly know of their aspirations and passions. For others, a life-changing moment can spark an unknown passion that creates an unwavering flame through all of life’s obstacles.
This is the case for Felicia Lindstrom. After witnessing family members struggle with diabetes and her grandmother ultimately losing her leg due to complications from the disease, she knew that she would dedicate her future to helping others.
“I was in junior high when my grandmother lost her leg,” Lindstrom says. “It’s life-changing learning to live without a limb. My grandma struggled, but I was there through the whole process of her getting fitted for a prosthetic. I decided back then in junior high that I would have a career in this field and work to help others feel whole again.”
Lindstrom carried her passion through high school and even contacted the Association for Prosthetics for more insight. She completed high school and her future seemed bright until tragedy struck.
“I lost my grandmother suddenly,” Lindstrom says. “She was my drive, and for a while I kind of lost my drive.”
Lindstrom started college courses right after high school, but didn’t complete her degree at that time. During her hiatus from school, she had a baby and decided to return to school once her daughter entered day care.
“My daughter was still young when I decided to return to school and I knew it would be hard to complete a degree that required a lot of classes with labs,” Lindstrom says.
“I was also working and didn’t want to spend too much time away from my daughter. It made sense at the time to pursue a degree in business management.”
After completing her degree, Lindstrom worked in industries ranging from banking, insurance and education.
“After spending so many years in business, I knew it wasn’t for me and longed for a different kind of challenge,” Lindstrom says. “My daughter was older, and it was time to rekindle that passion of serving others in health care.”
Lindstrom began researching programs offered at ASU and quickly learned that although ASU didn’t offer a prosthetics program, they did have a biomedical engineering master’s program.
“The biomedical engineering program was the perfect fit,” she says. “It combined two things I loved—math and science—and I was able to follow the career path that would allow me to serve others.”
Throughout the program, Lindstrom longed for more opportunities to expand her knowledge of medical equipment and supplies. This led her to Esperança.
Esperança receives donated medical supplies from all over the country to send to underserved hospitals, clinics and community health centers in Nicaragua. As a volunteer with Esperança, Lindstrom ensures all donated equipment runs smoothly before it is sent abroad. In addition, she sorts and catalogs medical supplies.
Besides its international work, Esperança provides health education and resources to Maricopa County’s most at-risk and under-served youth and adults through programs such as oral health, chronic disease prevention and management, nutrition and parent ambassador training.
This year, Esperança is adding a diabetes curriculum to its domestic program, something that resonates with Lindstrom.
“Prior to spending time at Esperança, I was unaware of the work it does in the local community,” Lindstrom says. “Because I grew up in a family that struggled with diabetes and know first-hand from my grandmother the complications that the disease can cause, it is a great feeling to support an organization that not only helps expand my knowledge, but also helps provide preventative education for a disease that has impacted my family.”
Recently, Lindstrom was featured as a Volunteer Spotlight on Esperança’s blog and her story caught the eyes of one of Esperança’s partners.
“The director of HealthWorks Collaborative read my story and was inspired by my early passion for prosthetics,” Lindstrom says. “They asked if I would be interested in attending a prosthetics mission to Guatemala. This is an exciting opportunity to be able to learn and experience prosthetics first-hand.”
Lindstrom will be assisting a team of prosthetics technicians with fitting patients for prosthetics.
“This mission is a tribute to my grandmother and the first step into my future. I’m grateful to HealthWorks Collaborative for this incredible opportunity.” CT