Profile: Professor Patricia Bodelson

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Patricia Bodelson as she reflects on her past experience as a nurse.

It was so early in the morning that the sun was still below the horizon. The bus had picked her up 2 hours earlier than it was supposed to, but she was too exhausted to care. She got off after a couple of stops and began walking towards her place. It only took a minute of silence and suddenly she was staring at a tall man blocking her way. He was holding a knife threateningly and hissing death threats at her. In one swooping motion he cut a piece of her hair off and ripped open a few of the buttons on her shirt. Without thinking, she grabbed him by the collar and pushed him away, shouting that her boyfriend was a hockey player and that he would come here and kick his butt. The man turned and ran, leaving her breathless and trembling in the street. There had been 4 rickshaw drivers that had witnessed the assault, but no one had come to help her.

This was only one of the scariest moments in Patricia Bodelson’s life. The SCSU political science professor has had her share of experiences. Having dedicated her life to travelling and helping others, Bodelson has had to deal with difficult situations. Despite having faced extreme poverty, unpleasant living conditions, and uncooperative coworkers, Bodelson looks on the positive side of her travels.

“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “I really want to go back and do more.”

Her optimistic outlook stems from her years spent serving as a nurse in Medical Missions. Before coming to SCSU Bodelson was a prenatal clinical specialist and was working on furthering her education in public health. Her main focus was high risk pregnancies. This vocation has led her from helping leprosy patients in St. Lucia to delivering babies with nuns in India. Throughout all her experiences the hardest thing that she says she’s had to deal with has been seeing the disparities between the rich and the poor.

“It was really hard seeing a fancy mansion a few miles away from the poorest people living on the streets,” she said. “That was the most challenging thing to get used to.”

When she came back home Bodelson was determined to go into political science, wanting to help a larger range of people. Since starting her career in political science, Bodelson has been to Turkey and Greece, and has worked on projects like “Nuts for Life”, a documentary looking into Shea Butter production.

While most people would shy away from third world countries, Bodelson says that she likes taking on the challenge. Her first trip to St. Lucia was to test herself in a harsh environment, and she has enjoyed trips like this ever since. Preferring to stick to third world countries, the SCSU professor has no interest in high-priced vacations, and instead wants to dedicate her time helping people around the world.

While Bodelson admits that there are some real dangers when it comes to travelling, she says that the only time she ever felt unsafe was when she got lost. And that didn’t happen very often! From dead bodies on the streets in India to high-end mansions in Africa, Bodelson has seen it all.  Unwilling to settle down or retire, the SCSU professor looks forward to going to Cuba in the summer with a small group of students. Bodelson looks forward to a future in which she can put her nursing, and political science education, to good use by helping people around the world.