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CU Nursing Student Cathy Brouillette takes on more than nursing.

Students

Business Woman. Entrepreneur. Mother. Active Volunteer. Soon-to-be Nurse.

From making masks to volunteering at a homeless shelter, Carrie Brouillette shows how a little volunteerism goes a long way.

Author Dana Brandorff | Publish Date August 10, 2020

Volunteering is in Carrie Brouillette’s nature. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the nursing student has marshaled her neighbors to donate fabric and created a mini assembly line to make cloth masks. “My mother is an incredible seamstress. So I measured and cut, and she sewed,” said Brouillette. The two churned out about 600 cloth masks in their makeshift in-home manufacturing facility! And that’s not all. Brouillette also volunteered at a homeless shelter with the intent of learning how to be a better nurse.

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Associate professor Scott Harpin and Carrie
Brouillette, pause while volunteering at a
women's shelter for the homeless at the
Denver Coliseum. (Photo: Scott Harpin)

Her duties included helping guests relocate from the temporary shelter at the Coliseum to area hotels. Under faculty member Dr. Scott Harpin’s watchful gaze, tasks included assisting residents to apply for Medicaid and shadowing an OB doc. “It was really rewarding. One guest didn’t have glasses and couldn’t read the application because of her vision. It took about five minutes to get her signed up, and she was so grateful.”

According to Brouillette, both experiences have been “extremely satisfying.” Not willing to sit around and do nothing during this time, Brouillette became inspired to contribute her time and abilities. Before enrolling in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, she had a successful career in business -- creating and building start-up manufacturing companies. Her eye for operations and her knack for dealing with people have come in handy during the last few months. “I didn’t realize my skills would translate well for both the nursing program and volunteering during a pandemic. I’m pleasantly surprised that they do,” said Brouillette.

While running her own business, she discovered a love for helping employees get their lives on track. “What I loved was helping them with life skills. In retrospect, I guess it was very similar to nursing – triaging their situation and helping them get the resources they needed to help them.” With an industry that attracts semi-skilled laborers, undocumented workers, and those with limited schooling, she understands the needs of the more vulnerable among us.

Between her last business venture and enrolling in CU Nursing, Brouillette and her family moved out of state where she was a stay-at-home mom, devoting much of her time to her two boys who were middle schoolers. “I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. However, the time was right to spend more time with them. All the while, I had a nagging thought that I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what it was,” she recalled.

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Supplies Carrie Brouillette and her mother
used to make masks.

Within a few years, the family moved back to Colorado. Once her two sons started high school, she began to pursue her nursing degree. Today, Brouillette is in her final year of the program. In 2021, she and her eldest son will share a special date when he graduates from high school and her from CU Nursing.