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Global Medical Brigades (GMB), a branch of Global Brigades, is an international non-profit organization that provides pharmaceuticals and medical attention to four different countries: Honduras, Nicaragua, Ghana and Panama. While in Ghana over spring break, our team treated over 600 individuals who met with a doctor, dentist and an OBGYN nurse (if female) during one of the four days our clinic was running. Depending on the diagnosis, patients received medications brought over from the US and all patients were required to attend a public health informational session. One of the most important aspects of GMB focuses on sustainable care and disease prevention, which volunteers seek to address through visits made by different brigades every 5 weeks and public health sessions.
How do you feel you have empowered others to become more through your service?
While teaching an informational public health session, I was struck by the young faces staring back at me. Despite the gravity of the health issues associated with local tribe we were treating, I saw hope in the younger generations who had the opportunity to educate and empower themselves. Their positivity and willingness to learn about how to prevent the same diseases the tribe members around them were struggling with instilled me with a sense of hope. And while my trip was short and my knowledge about the medical world limited, I truly felt that my passion for teaching and aiding in the treatment of children and their families members made a lasting impact.
How has this influenced what you want to do next?
As a freshman I found myself undecided when searching for a major because I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or psychology. But like most plans, over the course of the year my ideas about what I wanted to do with my education changed dramatically. While working with the local tribe's children and teaching them about preventative health care measures, I realized what I valued most was not the medicinal aspect of Global Medical Brigades, but the in depth interactions I was able to have with such unique individuals. In combination with my Experiential Learning for Social Justice placement in a recreation and tutoring center for low-income youth in San Jose, my passion for education and children blossomed. By the end of my freshman year I declared a major in Psychobiology and a minor in Studio Art to prepare myself for a career in teaching (preferably at the high school level in Biology) or Art Therapy.
What are your future plans?
I am studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa beginning this July and like my spring break experience, I predict that the time I spend abroad will be both eye-opening and challenging. With every region, there are social issues and for South Africa, two of largest issues that come to mind are the lasting effects of Apartheid and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During the five months I am in Cape Town, I expect to learn a great deal about the observable effects of Apartheid and reflect on how acts of racism translate into every day life (independent of the country) in order to start figuring out how to combat and stop them from being committed. In terms of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I hope to work in a children's orphanage and school where I can teach and learn about the lives of the children and their families. The prospect of working with youth and teaching excites me most when thinking about my upcoming trip. Additionally, I know there are a great deal of experiences I cannot anticipate, but will influence my perspective as a citizen of the world. As for the future beyond studying abroad, I hope to work in both the psychology and biology research departments, serve as a Program Coordinator for SCCAP and apply for a fellowship over the summer to aide a different community abroad.
If you could give a student advice on how to become more at SCU, what would it be?
The fall quarter club fair was the beginning of the amazing experience I've had while attending Santa Clara, and I strongly recommend signing up for anything that seems remotely interesting, even if you feel under qualified. Like my experience with GMB, being undeclared or unsure of your strengths should not limit the opportunities you pursue or discourage you from trying new things. With every experience, good or bad, you will learn something new, and chances are that what you learn will stay with you for the rest of your life. As a student at SCU and an individual in this world, the most important thing you can do is expand your knowledge of the world around you and draw upon your passions and strengths to serve others. Getting involved on campus is only the first step in discovering your full potential.<< Become More at SCU