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Koret Fellowship Program

Erica Martinez

Biology major, Class of 2020


I became a member of the Global Medical Brigades at Santa Clara in October of last year. After having meetings and preparing for the trip for almost 5 months, we were off to Darien, Panama during Spring Break. We stayed in a kids camp site where all 30 of us slept in one room on small bunk beds and shared one bathroom. Our 6 days in country consisted of waking up and getting ready before breakfast so that after we could all get on the buses then drive to the town we were going to visit, then coming back to eat dinner and reflect as a group before heading to bed at ten.

The trip as a whole was a new experience since I had not given any kind of medical service before. To be able to help the people of Panama was the perfect way to get started since I felt connected to them and reminded me of towns I see in Mexico that have similar. After have an insightful discussion with the paramedic of the brigade, I decided that I will volunteer for the Red Cross in my hometown in Mexico over the summer. She works for the Red Cross and told me how they are very welcoming and that it would be a great experience. Additionally, the brigade experience has cleared my career path as I had wished it would. I truly loved providing my service for those in communities and being part of something more interactive than possibly just receiving patients for check-up appointments. I loved being able to form relationships with the people and the children, so much that it felt natural and I did not want to leave. I definitely wish to do similar work in the future as a career and work out in communities and focus on helping the children, instead of working for a hospital clinic here in the United States as a common pediatrician. If that is not possible, then at the very least send out resources in the appropriate way so that the mission of the global medical brigades can be achieved and have them be self-sufficient because communities can do it on there own, just need resources to initiate the transition. I am truly blessed and grateful for the experience because it allowed me to not only realize what pathway I wanted to take with my medical pursuit, but also for the people I met along the way including the staff and community members which I have get in touched with and plan to visit. As a result, I will be returning as a supply coordinator for the Global Medical Brigades next year.