This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this year's MEDLIFE Awards. Each week we will be talking to a chapter to hear about their keys to success. Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE.
 
The Ohio State University MEDLIFE chapter is committed to service and building relationships with other groups on campus and in the surrounding community. They hold monthly meetings which are not only educational but are hands-on and practical. They invite guests to speak to members about topics like suicide prevention or the heroin epidemic in Ohio, and have held countless educational seminars including CPR training, yoga classes, and pillow making workshops. These seminars allow their members to develop professionally and use these new skills to give back!
 
We recently reached out to MEDLIFE-OSU Chapter President, Elizabeth Adams, to learn about her chapter's success. 
 
16179228 1306203619439162 3978770277363816195 oIn January 2017, MEDLIFE OSU sent over 30 students on a Service Learning trip to Cusco, Peru.
 
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
I joined MEDLIFE the first week of my freshman year when I accidentally stumbled upon the MEDLIFE booth at our involvement fair! Joining our university's chapter was the best decision of my college career. After the first meeting, where I learned about MEDLIFE's mission and the ways we were able to help lower income families both locally and abroad, I was absolutely hooked. What really made me dedicate myself to MEDLIFE was their commitment to serving communities longterm by providing year-round followup care, education on preventative medicine, and sustainable development projects that allow a community to thrive from within, rather than rely on constant outside assistance. 
 
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
I think that our Chapter has been able to gain the support of and to inspire students to work with MEDLIFE by sharing our individual stories. Whether it is at an involvement fair, through our chapter's social media, or even just in casual conversation before lecture, the first thing I, executive board, and general body members mention about MEDLIFE is their own, personal experience and why it means so much to them. I think our chapter has had great success in this because we also provide opportunities for members to get involved with local outreach to the Columbus community. Whether it's for a local food drive, a fundraiser that consists of petting puppies, learning about health disparities in the LGBTQ community of Columbus, or volunteering at an elementary school, we give our members something to talk about, even if it is done locally! Of course, mentioning that you got to climb Machu Picchu while assisting in serving thousands of patients abroad through triaging them, teaching children how to brush their teeth, and filling their prescriptions is also pretty cool 
 
14 12 2 The Ohio State chapter keeps meetings engaging! Here, they are making pillows and cards for Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.
 
In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?
I believe our chapter's greatest achievement is having the ability for our members to feel involved in whatever way they are able to and would like to. Many students feel financial constraints on being able to attend brigades, especially regularly, leaving bulks of time with a potentially foggy idea on what to do with MEDLIFE. Our chapter provides members with local opportunities for fundraising, volunteering, and learning. Additionally, we try our best to vary the times of day and day of the week when activities occur, in case of scheduling conflicts for a particular time/day. Further, sometimes schedules simply do not have room for a longterm involvement with the chapter and we understand that! It is totally ay-okay to simply go on a brigade through our chapter, and we work to ensure such members get the needed info for them to have a wonderful time on brigade! It's really all about making MEDLIFE whatever you want it to be, and our chapter works to spread this message! 
 
What did you do to get people engaged?
We do our best to switch up meeting topics/ideas/styles to keep everything fresh! For example, we may have a meeting based on educating ourselves about a particular health disparity in our community led by a guest speaker. Then the following meeting may be a little more hands-on, such as making stress balls for children in a local orphanage. We also keep communication open between executive board and our general body members through surveys! This ensures that we are providing the content and the opportunities that our members are looking for MEDLIFE to provide them.
 
14 12 3Members at a Kaplan Suture Clinic.
 
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?
My most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE has to be my trip to Lima, Peru in January of 2016. One particular  memory is from our last day working in the community, during the reveal of our completed staircase development project. I had been playing with a little girl, about 6 years old, then it was time to go. As we packed up, I noticed that the girl's father was kneeling down so she could speak into his ear. He listened intently, as if he was trying to learn. He and his daughter went back and forth a couple of times, repeating the same thing back and forth. He then approached me, extended his hand, smiled, and said, "Thank you." The language of love knows no barriers. 
 
What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?
One of our chapter's goals is to independently raise the funds for a development project! We also plan to continue to expand our local volunteer opportunities focusing on medicine, education, and development. 
 
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
Always remember why you joined MEDLIFE. Remember the fire that started within you to inspire you to be involved with leadership within your chapter, and always work towards spreading that feeling to others. Specifically, keep communication open within the chapter and remember it starts with you! Always ask questions, collaborate with other chapters, and reach out to national! 
 
Remember,"Individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean."-Ryunosuke Satoro
 
14 12
Thirty-six year old Dr. Carolina Wong has been working with MEDLIFE as a dentist in Lima for almost two years. She was first motivated to pursue medicine because of her desire and drive to connect with patients and help people with their problems. With her passion for serving others, Dr. Carolina was a natural fit for the MEDLIFE team. 
 
We sat down with Dr. Carolina to learn more about her story. 
 
14 12 6359Dr. Carolina Wong is one of several dentists who work regularly with MEDLIFE in Lima.
 
What inspired you to work in MEDLIFE's Mobile Clinics?
I really like working with MEDLIFE because I get to have direct contact with the people volunteering, trying to resolve the patients' questions and ailments. 
 
 Where do you work when you are not on a Mobile Clinic?
I work in a dental practice. I also work in schools with small children as a part of the Qali Warma project, in which I attend to children 11 years old and younger. 
 
 How would you describe Lima?
 Beautiful, with a lot of people. The people are very good, friendly, caring, and kind. 
 
18814624 1454676647904706 3265541971776728848 oHere, Dr. Carolina works to fill a cavity on a Mobile Clinic patient.
 
What experience has impacted you the most since working on Mobile Clinics? Is there a particular case or patient? 
Yes, with this work, a lot of the cases have a huge impact on us. There are so many families and places here in Lima... There's no way to know all of the communities. There are far away communities that we don't even know exist, where there are people with diverse problems. They always try to get ahead with what little they have, but it's always with a smile. I remember I once met a mother who had four small children and her only work was selling vegetables. So through selling vegetables, she was able to earn enough money to send her kids to public school. All that being said she still always had her children well cared for and protected. I'll always remember the care and protection that mother showed her children. 
 
What do you enjoy the most about Mobile Clinics? 
I enjoy being able to help people. I enjoy when the students come. I love getting to know them, being able to interact with them, and being able to respond to their expectations and answer their questions... I like that we are able to all be one family.  
 
What would you tell future volunteers who come on a Mobile Clinic?  
I would tell them that they are going to have a really great experience with the patients here in Peru, the adults as much as the kids. They are going to learn a lot with us at every station: dental, OBGYN, general medicine, pharmacy...and they're going to experience that Lima heat! 

 

14 12 6366Dr. Carolina Wong is an invaluable member of the MEDLIFE team. She always works very closely with volunteers to ensure they get the most of their Mobile Clinic experience.

On Tuesday, June 6, 2017, members of the MEDLIFE staff visited the community of Villa Rica to deliver an educational workshop preceding the weekend's upcoming clinic. Villa Rica is a community located in the Lomo Corvina zone of the Villa El Salvador district. Tuesday's educational session was focused on women's health, covering topics ranging from breast and cervical cancer to sexual health. MEDLIFE staff discussed the risks and warning signs of breast cancer and the importance of performing regular self breast exams. Community members also recieved a hands-on workshop demonstrating how to perform a self exam. The topic then shifted to cervical cancer and its associated risks. The discussion focused on the importance of Pap smear exams as well as the negative stigma surrounding such exams. The MEDLIFE nurses also covered the idea that cervical cancer is not, in fact, heredetary, but rather it is cause by damage from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. The floor was also opened to any general questions community members may have. Educational workshops within communities are an important part of the MEDLIFE mission because they provide a safe and open environment where community members can express concerns. They are a great way to build awareness, organization, and trust within a community!

14-12-7281Over 20 community members from Villa Rica as well as the new MEDLIFE interns were in attendance.

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14-12-7299MEDLIFE staff member, Teresa, lectures on the warning signs of breast cancer.

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14-12-7308Self breast exams are not only imporant for women; men can be affected by breast cancer as well!

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14-12-7318Educational workshops are an opportunity for community members to express any concerns they have. Questions are not limited to the night's topic!

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14-12-7331Carmen, another member of the MEDLIFE staff, demonstrates how a Pap smear would be conducted at one of our clinics.

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This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this years MEDLIFE Awards. Each week we will be talking to a chapter to hear about their keys to success. Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE.
 
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley started their chapter in 2017. From the beginning, they were on the track to success. The very first chapter meeting had 105 people in attendance with about 60 students continuing to attend on a regular basis. They actively volunteer with a local food bank, as well as working with the Salvation Army and an organization called Infinite Love, which focuses on giving support to Oncology patients. 
 
One of their chapter highlights includes hosting a MED Conference through which they raised money for MEDLIFE National projects. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley MEDLIFE chapter's vigor and drive to grow, to educate and advocate, is what has created their success story for their first year!
 
We caught up with Chapter President,Tanvi Gupta, to learn more about the success of this brand new chapter! 
 
14 12 0540Members of MEDLIFE Texas RGV on a Service Learning Trip to Cusco, Peru.
 
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
In March of 2016, I traveled to Lima, Peru with MEDLIFE to attend my first volunteer trip. I witnessed the poor living conditions and lack of access to healthcare there, which helped me realize the need for better healthcare globally. Back home, I knew many students also wanted to make a difference on both a local and international level. As a result, I started the MEDLIFE Chapter at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I truly believe in MEDLIFE’s mission of bringing medicine to impoverished communities, educating people, and constructing developmental projects based on what the communities need. I also really appreciate the dedication and passion that everyone at MEDLIFE displays; it made the process of building a new chapter less difficult. 
 
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
Before our first general meeting, I reached out to the Presidents of other healthcare-related organizations on campus to help promote our Chapter and spread the word about MEDLIFE. Presenting to other organizations and at campus events allowed us to have 105 members show up to our first meeting! 
 
During our general meetings, we incorporated a “Global Health Trivia” segment to educate members on medical issues, fostering important discussions. We also implemented a “Medical Spanish Phrases of the Day” segment where we have one member teach and explain two phrases commonly used on the volunteer trips.
 
I also established a points system to engage and motivate members. They would receive points for volunteering, fundraising, attending meetings, and wearing their MEDLIFE shirt to events. During each meeting, we included a PowerPoint slide with a list of our top 20 members and their updated points. At the end of the year, we created a “MEDLIFE Scholarship” to award our highest point earners and help them pay for their trip to Peru.
 
In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?
This past semester, we planned a volunteer trip and sent 19 members to Cusco, Peru! I am extremely proud of my Executive Board for accomplishing this task in our first year. We also partnered with several organizations on campus to host a Health Professions Conference, bringing in medical school students, nurses, social workers, surgeons, and physicians. 
 
14 12 0544The Texas MEDLIFErs show off some serious fundraising skills!
 
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?

This year, I reached out to a local organization called Infinite Love. We collaborated to provide meals to low-income families and the homeless every Friday. This has been one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences for our members and officers this past year.
 
Personally, my most memorable experience with MEDLIFE was the volunteer trip to Lima. The people there lacked access to basic necessities that we, in the United States, take for granted. Knowing I could make a difference in their lives and improve their conditions even slightly solidified my decision to pursue medicine. I am forever grateful to MEDLIFE for the opportunity to volunteer abroad. The trip was an incredible, eye-opening experience!
 
What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?
Next year, I really hope to bring medical professionals to our general meetings to discuss important topics such as diabetes or disease prevention. I also want to organize bigger volunteer events for our members with local schools and organizations.
 
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
I think the main thing to always keep in mind is your members. Make meetings fun and interactive. Ask members what they think about the meetings and events because feedback from members is crucial to improving the Chapter. Also, stay in touch with your MEDLIFE Team Leader and keep them updated. The monthly phone calls with Brittany Cook, our Team Leader, played a huge role in our success this year!
 
14 12 0541The 2017 MEDLIFE Texas Rio Grande Valley Executive Board.
Twenty-seven year old doctor Evelin Mota describes her childhood as being centered around serving people.  Having a mother who was a nurse, Evelin spent a lot of time in hospitals growing up, and became aware of the existence of people in need. She remembers her mother's exciting work environment and the joys of being able to help those in need. Inspired by her childhood, Evelin decided to pursue a career in medicine.
 
IMG 3665Dr. Evelin Mota attended medical school at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) in her hometown of Lima, Perú.
 
What inspired you to work in MEDLIFE's Mobile Clinics?
I found out about MEDLIFE on Facebook and through my friend Alexandra Nuñez, who also works for MEDLIFE. I was attracted to this non-profit by the dynamics of MEDLIFE such as attending patients, conversing in english, and teaching foreign students, all while simultaneously helping those in need.
 
How long have you been working for MEDLIFE?
This is my second month working with them.
 
Where do you work when you are not in Mobile Clinics?
Currently, MEDLIFE is the only work I do; I am preparing for a residency program in the United States to further my medical career and do not have much free time for additional work. MEDLIFE is helping me ready myself for this tremendous opportunity. 
 
What experience impacted you the most when working in Mobile Clinics? Any particular case or patient? 
Today has been the most impactful day so far. Many of the patients I met with today at our Mobile Clinic had high blood pressure, but most of them had no idea what this means. These patients were very eager to learn how to lower their blood pressure, and carried a smile on their faces throughout the entire process. Our patients listened closely to our recommendations and understood the importance of properly taking their medications and adjusting their lifestyle accordingly. 
 
What do you enjoy the most in the Mobile Clinics? 
When working in Mobile Clinics, I enjoy the interaction among the patients, volunteers, and doctors the most. This interactive relationship is beneficial for all. The volunteers are able to learn about diagnoses and treating patients, the doctors are improving their english pronunciation, and, most importantly, the patients are receiving proper medical care.
 
What would you tell to the future volunteers that will come to a Mobile Clinics?  
This an amazing opportunity. I feel very happy and fortunate to be here. People should come on MEDLIFE trips for a chance to also live this experience.

IMG 3616Here, Dr. Mota attends new patients at a mobile clinic in Lima, Peru.

The first half of our Summer 2017 Interns have finally arrived in Lima! Keep reading to learn more about them!

Aidan Wells: Communications Intern

aidanHometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
School: University of Georgia
Major: Biology & Spanish with a minor in Global Health
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE?
I joined the UGA Chapter of MEDLIFE my freshman year of college after I heard the former chapter president shouting at an activities fair about, "an incredible opportunity to serve people living in low-income areas around the globe." MEDLIFE has so much to offer both locally and abroad, so I've been involved ever since! 
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm an upcoming senior at the University of Georgia. I'm a self-taught graphic designer, and I especially love creating art for t-shirts and posters. I'm really in to travel and Spanish, and I spent the summer of 2016 studying Spanish and interning at a pediatric hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I also love crochet, movies, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
I've been really involved in my school's chapter, but I've only had the opportunity to attend one mobile clinic. I've always wanted to be able to help MEDLIFE National in another way, and since I served as the advertising chair for my chapter two years in a row, becoming the Communications intern was naturally the next step! 
 
What was your first impression of Lima?
Lima is much more metropolitan than Cusco, where I had the opportunity to go on a mobile clinic in January 2016. The city is massive. Everyone keeps telling me I can find anything I could ever want in the city, but I can barely find my way to the office in the mornings. I can't wait to see what all Lima has in store!
 
What are your goals for this internship?
I hope that I can bring a fresh take and a new voice to MEDLIFE National and the way they are represented on social media. Volunteers and local MEDLIFE chapters are so crucial to the way MEDLIFE works, and social media is one of the number one ways they keep up with what national has planned. I hope to be able to connect with chapters, volunteers, and anyone else who wants to know what it is that we here at MEDLIFE do. Also, I'm hoping my Spanish skills improve a little since I am majoring in it after all!

Aly Beeman: Volunteer Affairs Intern

alissaHometown: Boulder, Colorado
School: University of Tampa 
Major: I am majoring in public health with a concentration in health education and promotion! I will also have a minor in sociology 
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE? 
One of my professors encouraged me to get involved with MEDLIFE since she knew about my love for global health. MEDLIFE at the time was brand new so it was pretty easy to find was to get involve and help create the new chapter! I have since been on the Executive Board working as the Volunteer Coordinator. 
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Whenever I get a chance to hop on an airplane I'll travel some place new. So far I have traveled to 15 countries and I have studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa! I am planning on joining the Peace Corps after I get my masters in global health and epidemiology. You can usually find me laying around in my Eno hammock and drinking coffee! I am an avid skier but also like spending the day at the beach.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
I wanted to become a MEDLIFE Intern because it meant that I would be able to join and learn from a team of highly motivated individuals that have invested themselves in transforming health care systems around the world. MEDLIFE gives a platform to allow people to unite and invoke real change in the face of global health. I wanted to work with an organization that pushed me out of my comfort zone and let me see the world in a new way. I wanted to intern with MEDLIFE specifically because I believe it is all encompassing work. I set out to find an internship that stood by my favorite quote by Paul Farmer, "medicine can only treat the symptoms of poverty." Becoming an intern with MEDLIFE has given me the opportunity to call my passion "work."
 
What was your first impression of Lima?
My first impression of Lima is that it is a complex alluring city. Lima is very large and has anything and everything that you could want! It is vibrant and infectious with its energy. Lima is the kind of city that what you put into it, you will get out of it. I am excited to surf and take salsa classes this summer!
 
What are your goals for this internship?
With my internship in MEDLIFE, I hope to learn how to better fight for global health equity. I want to learn how to take what I have learned in school and actually apply it to real people and communities that need help. It is easy to point out problems in a health system but translating them to sustainable solutions is another thing entirely. Building bridges to easier and affordable health care is no easy task but I believe that MEDLIFE can give me the tools access that knowledge and make those relationships to do so!

Brandy Collum: Volunteer Affairs Intern

brandyHometown: Harvest, Alabama
School: The University of Alabama
Major: Marketing and Spanish
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE? 
My roommate, who is from Athens, Georgia, has several friends who are involved in the MEDLIFE chapter at UGA. One of her friends attended a summer mobile clinic and heard that his experience was incredible. As I was deciding what I wanted to do for the summer, she mentioned the possibility of MEDLIFE, so I looked into this option, and was captivated. I immediately applied for the internship because I realized I couldn't pass up the opportunity to genuinely serve workers, volunteers, and patients abroad.
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am from Sweet Home Alabama, but I have some Mexican ties since my mother is from Guadalajara. I am currently an upcoming senior at The University of Alabama. I have a passion for people and traveling, but more specifically, I enjoying assisting others across the world in any way I can. I have been a part of a summer Christian camp known as Pine Cove where I traveled all through different cities in Texas for seven weeks which lead to organizing a camp in Panama for a week. I have also served abroad for a nonprofit called Filter of Hope in Dominican Republic. In addition, I enjoy hiking, biking, cooking, and drinking a lot of coffee.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
After doing research about MEDLIFE's mission and finding out information regarding the internship, I realized it could immensely benefit me as a college student who is trying to decide what career path best fits me. I had always considered working for a nonprofit, but I had never had any experience working in the office because I did not want to give away serving hands-on in the community. However, this internship entailed both aspects which was great! I had the opportunity to assist in mobile clinics, serve in the projects, and help in the office. I also appreciated that it was located in a Spanish speaking country I had never been before which was an opportunity for me to experience a new culture. 
 
What was your first impression of Lima?
It is a little crazy, and very very very different from my hometown which was overwhelming in the beginning. The buildings are wall-to-wall, traffic is endless and hectic, and Spanish is spoken all around, but it offers such a unique culture. I would describe Lima as vibrant and dynamic with delicious food.
 
What are your goals for this internship?
I hope through this internship I am able to gain more knowledge about MEDLIFE and what goes on behind the scene since I do not have a well established chapter at my own university. I also hope to serve the community well and provide for their basic needs and show them love and care they are desperate for. I hope to meet new people and obtain a wider perspective in life. Also, I hope this internship will help me decide if I will be interested in a career similar to this internship in the future. 

Grace Akin: Volunteer Affairs Intern

grace
Hometown: Maryville, IL
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Major: Molecular & Cellular Biology
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE? 
I first heard about MEDLIFE from an advertisement for a general body meeting in my major’s newsletter. I was intrigued and decided to go to the first meeting. When I got there, I immediately noticed the passion and excitement the executive board members had for MEDLIFE’s mission & I decided to keep going to meetings. I learned more about global health and the root causes of poverty and then got to experience them firsthand during a mobile clinic in Riobamba, Ecuador. It was during that week that I fell in love with MEDLIFE and what they were doing for so many people. I joined my chapter’s executive board the following year and have been involved ever since. I am going to be our chapter’s president for the 2017-18 year and I am very excited to take what I learn here in Lima back to my own chapter!
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m going to be a senior at the University of Illinois this upcoming school year. I enjoy knitting and am currently working on my first pair of socks. Additionally, I like to run and am training to run the Chicago Marathon this October. I’m a fan of the outdoors, love to hike & am excited to explore the beautiful nature here in Lima!
 
Why did you decide to become an intern? 
I decided to become an intern because I wanted to get further my involvement with MEDLIFE and get to experience mobile clinic work all summer long rather than just one week. You learn so much during a mobile clinic week and I wanted to be able to have that learning experience for as long as possible. I also wanted to become an intern to see the reality behind what I’m learning in my global health classes and to grow both personally and professionally.
 
What was your first impression of Lima? 
Miraflores is beautiful! I was first in Lima during a mobile clinic trip in March 2016 and initially found the city to be lovely. I can’t wait to see all that Lima has in store!
 
What are your goals for this internship? 
My first goal is to learn some Spanish. It was a little intimidating to move to a country where I don’t speak the language but I am excited to be able to learn Spanish while I’m here! I also want to further my understanding and education about public health, Peru’s healthcare system, and the ways in which poverty manifests itself within a community. There’s always more to learn and I want to use my time here in Lima to take in and learn as much as possible so I can take it back to my own MEDLIFE chapter.

Julia Jashinski: Volunteer Affairs Intern

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PAjulia
School: The Ohio State University 
Major: I am majoring in public health with a sociology specialization. 
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE? 
I became involved with MEDLIFE during my freshman year as a member of the chapter at OSU. This past year I served as the Public Relations Coordinator on our executive board and attended a mobile clinic in Cusco, Peru during my winter break. 
 
Tell us a little about yourself. 
I'm a rising junior at THE Ohio State University. I really like to try new things, adventuring, and reading. I aspire to have the humor of Chandler from Friends, the whip is my go-to dance move, and I've been a vegetarian for almost a year because of a dare.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
I decided to accept the Volunteer Affairs internship with MEDLIFE because the mission of the organization is something that resonates strongly with me. MEDLIFE really takes on a comprehensive approach to health that aims to treat the root causes of illness as well as the symptoms in the areas that we work in. This organization has a genuine connection to the communities that we work in. I saw an opportunity to apply my skill, passion, and interest to an organization dedicated to sustainable health outcomes and decided to take it by joining the MEDLIFE team as a summer intern. 
 
What was your first impression of Lima? 
I was amazed with Lima from the second that I arrived. I have always been drawn to large cities and the fast paced lifestyle of urban areas. Lima has a bit of everything so I was immediately excited to be able to see all of it and call it home for the three months I'm here!
 
What are your goals for this internship?  
When I leave this internship I hope I can go with an improved knowledge of sustainable practices of non-governmental organizations. By learning more about how MEDLIFE creates working partnerships that benefit the community beyond the initial mobile clinic, I can apply this my future career. Additionally as a Volunteer Affairs intern, I hope to be able to connect with the volunteers on our mobile clinics in Lima and help them find their passion, whether it is global health or not, and how to apply that to their lives back at home. I'd also like improve my very minimal Spanish speaking ability. 

Keilly Pulgar: Volunteer Affairs Intern

keillyHometown: Tampa, Florida
School: University of Florida
Major: Nutritional Sciences & Italian Studies minor
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE?  
I first found out about MEDLIFE while I was a junior in high school. I have a sister that is two years older than me and one of her friends at the time did a MEDLIFE mobile clinic in Lima, Peru with the USF MEDLIFE chapter. I remember being super interested in doing something similar and told myself I would participate in a clinic once I was in college. UF MEDLIFE was the first organization I joined when I started my studies at the University of Florida. I immediately signed up for their winter trip to Tena, Ecuador and loved it so much that I also participated in a mobile clinic in Cusco, Peru that same school year.
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela and my family and I immigrated to the United States when I was just 4 years old. I have two wonderful, supportive parents, an older sister, and a twin brother. I've always been super close to my parents and my siblings, they're my best friends. I love to travel and try to immerse myself in different cultures as often as possible. I am currently a Pre-Med (or Pre-PA, still trying to figure it out) student and hope to one day practice medicine in underserved communities. I also want to serve some time in the Peace Corps, ideally after my college graduation. 
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
I decided to become an intern because I wanted to experience what MEDLIFE was like outside of my chapter. I have a good friend who was a previous intern and she pretty much sold me on it from the beginning, she didn't even have to say much. I knew I was passionate about working with underserved populations but I also knew I didn't know much about how I could help or even how to start. I figured working as a MEDLIFE intern would be a great way to learn more about non-profit work and how successful and sustainable NGOs are run. When I found out I got the internship I was ecstatic! I knew I wanted come into this internship with an open mind and with a desire to learn anything and everything. I've only been here a few days and I already feel as if I've learned so much about MEDLIFE, Peru, and the people we help. I hope to take back my knowledge and apply it not only in my chapter but in other parts of my life as well. 
What was your first impression of Lima?
I tend to fall in love with pretty much every city I visit, so it wasn't super difficult to fall in love with Lima either. I spent my first weekend here exploring the Miraflores and Barranco districts with some of the other interns. There's so much to do and see here-- I've already started forming my Lima bucket list. 
At the same time, it is shocking to see how the line between the rich and the poor in this city and how it may go unnoticed to some people. Many would assume the more poverty-stricken areas would be far away from the more wealthy areas, but they are literally separated by a wall and only minutes away from each other. 
 
What are your goals for this internship?
My goal for this internship is to learn as much as possible. I want to learn about MEDLIFE's patients, the communities we help develop, and the people who work so hard to make it all happen. I want to work closely with people who have the same goal as me but may think differently, therefore challenging me to think critically about everything. Personally, I hope my time here helps me discover my strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between. Aside from all the good MEDLIFE does, I think this internship is an opportunity to help me grow in ways I would never think I needed to. Ultimately, I hope to make something out of my time as a MEDLIFE intern and plan to use my experience to expand my ideas and help others no matter where I am in the world. 

Neil Doshi: Volunteer Affairs Intern

neilHometown: Johns Creek, GA
School: University of Georgia
Major: Biology and Psychology
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE? 
Prior to starting my freshman year at UGA, I felt a little overly ambitious and started looking into organizations to join. I asked my sister for advice and she told me about MEDLIFE and her friend’s experiences with the organization. After hearing about the MEDLIFE’s work, I became extremely interested in joining the organization, and I showed up to their first meeting after being reminded of the organization through a poster at a library. I was immediately engrossed by their mission, take on global health, and their work’s impact global. So, I began actively participating in my chapter’s volunteer and fundraising events. My sophomore year I went on my first mobile clinic to Lima, Peru and now I am here, interning with MEDLIFE HQ!  
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Michigan and moved to Georgia when I was around 10 years old. I am heading into my junior year of college. I love watching NFL football, and I am a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan! I also enjoy watching TV shows such as Suits, watching movies, photography, playing sports, and traveling around the world. 
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
After coming back from my Lima mobile clinic during my winter break, I felt even more passionate about MEDLIFE’s mission involving global health care and combating poverty. Specifically, I truly believed in MEDLIFE’s methodology in creating sustainable programs and the congruency of the three MED (Medicine, Education, and Development) pillars. Thus, I was keen on getting even more involved and learning more about the organization. I felt that serving as an intern would provide me with the opportunity to develop a unique perspective on global health and allow me to serve underserved communities, which would serve me well in pursuing my future goals/ambitions. 
 
What was your first impression of Lima?
My first impression of Lima when I first visited the city on a mobile clinic was of how populous and developed it was in terms of traffic and buildings. I was also surprised how multi-cultured the city as it had a plethora of American fast food chains and also restaurants from places such as India and the Middle East. 
 
What are your goals for this internship?
One of my goals for the internship involves developing my communication/public speaking skills, leadership skills, and Spanish-speaking skills. I also hope to gain a better perspective on the various barriers and injustices faced by the people/communities that I will be working with, and also to have a meaningful impact on those groups. 

Sahand Eftekari: Volunteer Affairs Intern

sahanHometown: River Falls, WI   
School:  University of Wisconsin - Madison
Major: B.S. Biomedical Engineering
How did you get involved in MEDLIFE?
I'm a member of the MEDLIFE Wisconsin Chapter, and I was lucky enough to attend a volunteer trip in Lima, Peru.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I just finished my junior year at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and enjoy building things.  In my spare time, I enjoy reading and running.  I hope to someday attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician.
 
Why did you decide to become an intern?
I wanted to become more involved with MEDLIFE and help this non-profit provide aid to more people that desperately need it.
 
What was your first impression of Lima?
Lima is a very metropolitan environment with many different sites to see and things to do.  One step outside of this shell the city becomes very heterogeneous with impoverished areas and affluent communities bordering each other, just out of site of one another.
 
What are your goals for this internship?
I'd like to help MEDLIFE coordinate volunteer trips and have a better understanding of the inner mechanics of this non-profit organization.
 
IMG 6757Our 2017 Summer Interns spent their first week working in the field to help build a safer staircase in the Bella Vista Community.
On monday March 27th, during our Spring 2017 season, MEDLIFE held a Mobile Clinic in the Chipsa community, located in Guano City, an hour and a half away from the city of Riobamba, Province of Chimborazo, Ecuador. As soon as the Mobile Clinic started, a woman appeared with a child who couldn't walk, and the two of them directly approached the doctor. The little girl was complaining about pain that was caused by a "'ball" putting pressure on her stomach. When the doctor was attending the girl, she could recognize that the girl wasn't in fact very well, and that she needed to get to the hospital. Martha Chicaiza, director of MEDPROGRAMS Latinamerica and Ecuador, was present and determined to help the patient. She hired an SUV, and that same day Miria Rosero, and her daughter, 14-year-old Kassandra Muyolema, were taken to the Hospital Docente de Riobamba. Once they arrived and were attended to, doctors confirmed Kassandra needed an emergency surgery. 
 
IMG 9227
 
In May of 2017, many weeks after meeting Kassandra and knowing that she was finally being treated, we visited her and her mother, Miria, to see how they have been.
 
The weekend before the Mobile Clinic which Kassandra attended, Miria heard that there would be a medical mission happening in their community soon. Today, Kassandra's mother informed us that she decided to wait for MEDLIFE to get to her community to seek the healthcare her daughter needed, because even though they have a health post close to them, she felt that the post could not provide the proper care that the little girl needed. That same day that we met Miria and Kassandra in the clinic, around 8pm, Kassandra went into surgery. The doctor previously said that her stomach was getting stiff, stating that it was about to burst and that it was best for Miria to mentally prepare for what was going to happen. The girl stayed in the hospital for eight days, unable to eat anything during that time period. She received an injection to stop the pain and shortly after that, she could walk and eat again. Now, Kassandra wants to jump and run, but her mother must always remind her to stay calm during the recovery process. 
 
Kassandra is part of a family of 6. She lives with her mother, father, and sister, while her two older brothers live in Quito, Ecuador. The family is originally from the Cahuají Alto community. Kassandra's dad had suffered from apendicitis years before, which is what would eventually happen to Kassandra. Thanks to the healthcare she received, Kassandra is now healthy and completely cured.
 
Miria works in the fields of Chipsa. She is very thankful that MEDLIFE was able to provide the support she needed to treat her daughter. The hostility which Miria had previously encountered in the hospital was what she was most afraid of. Miria felt that her daughter was getting worse by the minute, but no one was really taking care of them or treating Kassandra's illness. To this day, she is still thankful for Martha Chicaiza's patience and company during Kassandra's time at the hospital. 
 
"To all the patients who might suffer from the same illness, I encourage you to take the opportunity to get checked when doctors come with the Mobile Clinics. We might not all have the means or resources to go to the city (Riobamba) for healthcare, so we should appreciate all of the effort and time that the people of MEDLIFE put in just to come here just to heal people," Miria says. 
 
IMG 9233
This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this year's MEDLIFE Awards. Each week we will be talking to a chapter to hear about their keys to success. Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE.
 
This year, the University of Pennsylvania was awarded the MEDLIFE Social Media Award. MEDLIFE UPenn uses their social media as a tool to effectively communicate with their members to educate and spread awareness. They have held initiatives such as "Public Health Week" in which they created a short video series explaining various public health issues. They have their own website, blog, and even a youtube channel!
 
We caught up with the president of the University of Pennsylvania chapter, Santosh Nori, to hear more about their recent success as a chapter. 
 
14 12 6400Members of the University of Pennsylvania Chapter of MEDLIFE
 
How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?
 
I started to work with MEDLIFE during my freshman year of college. Coming into college, I knew that I was interested in global health, and really wanted to get involved with some service oriented activities related to this subject. I joined MEDLIFE, and a couple of other global health clubs, just to get a feel for which one was the best fit. In the end, I chose MEDLIFE because of all of the service opportunities our chapter provided that allowed us to actually make a difference both within Philadelphia and internationally and because of the awesome people that made up the chapter!
 
What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?
 
As the recently elected president of MEDLIFE Penn, one my main goals was to foster a sense of community within MEDLIFE on campus. My exec board and I strongly believed that this was one of the most important things to address, insofar as a sense of community lends itself to more engaged members and a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for students within MEDLIFE. We have implemented a “family group” system, where students across different committees  are essentially grouped into different “families” that are able to bond outside MEDLIFE. As such, there is more connection between students in different committees. This has also drawn in a number of general members, increasing our recruitment interest for next semester.
 
In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?
 
In my opinion, our chapter’s greatest achievement this year was our Community Engagement committee’s recent initiative on inner city education. Our community engagement committee has put together a global health curriculum to present to students in inner city schools, particularly in underprivileged areas of Philadelphia, to inform students more about facets of public health and to inspire them to explore studies and careers in these facets. They have just successfully piloted the initiative this semester, and plan to open up the project to all MEDLIFE members and more schools next semester.
 
What did you do to get people engaged?
 
One thing that my exec board and I felt was crucial for member engagement was connecting members to the different health issues that they were working on in MEDLIFE. In other words, we felt that students really did not know a lot about the health issues that they were tackling within the Philadelphia community and that MEDLIFE as a whole was tackling internationally. As such, we wanted to educate our members, as well as Penn’s campus, about these efforts and issues through a number of lectures by reputed public health experts on campus, MEDLIFE staff who Skyped in from Lima, and even other students.
 
14 12 1993Members of MEDLIFE UPenn attending the "Mindless Medicine" Lecture event
 
What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?
 
My most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE was volunteering at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia as a freshman, where other members and I were able to cook a meal for the poor that were at the shelter. It was a very fulfilling experience, and I was able to meet new members and really bond with them over the experience.
 
What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?
 
With regard to the short term future, I am looking to improve the general member experience at our chapter through more engaging campus events. In the long term, I would really like to have our chapter of MEDLIFE start a global health and international development oriented journal. A number of health organizations have done this on campus, however, such a journal doesn’t exist for students interested in global health, international development, and service. A thirst for knowledge and information in these areas on campus, both on an academic and pre-professional level, provides a niche for a journal focusing on these areas. Putting out a journal can help raise awareness for MEDLIFE, our chapter’s efforts, and our cause. 
 
Do you have any advice for other chapters?
 
One of my biggest pieces of advice based on my experiences thus far is that MEDLIFE should be approached from a perspective of what makes your members gain the most out of their experiences with the chapter. If students really enjoy being a part of the chapter and are interested in the work that the chapter does, they will remain committed to the chapter and really give their best, leading to better service and awareness.
 
14 12 0719Volunteer from MEDLIFE at the University of Pennsylvania

This blog is part of a series showcasing chapters that won awards in this years MEDLIFE Awards. Each week we will be talking to a chapter to hear about their keys to success. Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE.

University of Tampa has had a successful year as a new chapter. They quickly picked up the ball and ran with it. They recently received a reward from their University acknowledging them as the best organization on campus! In total, they have completed 2,000 volunteer hours including volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, St. Joseph’s Children Hospital and at a local outpatient clinic in Tampa.

We talked to Nichole Laggan, external President, and Veronica Martinez-Brockhus, internal president of the chapter, to hear about their involvement with MEDLIFE.

IMG 4625University of Tampa Chapter members

How did you start to work with MEDLIFE? Why did you choose MEDLIFE?

Veronica: The past president reached out to both Nichole and me last summer and asked if we  would be a part of MEDLIFE’s new chapter at UT. I had never heard of MEDLIFE but after much research, I found how amazing the organization is. I chose to be part of  University of Tampa’s founding executive board because I believe in all that MEDLIFE stands for. I feel as though people do not realize the need and value for service work throughout the world and in our local community. Through MEDLIFE, we are given the opportunity to give back through various events and types of volunteering.

 

What new strategies have you used as President of your Chapter to gather support and inspire students to work with MEDLIFE?

Nichole: Veronica and I have taken many opportunities to speak to the students across our campus at organization tabling events such as freshman orientation. However, gaining support is often an easy task. Most students fall in love with MEDLIFE’s mission and immediately want to join our chapter. Along with our service work and awareness projects, we place focus on fun events for our members. We feel it’s important to give back to the community, but also reward our amazing members for their efforts!

 

In your opinion, what is your chapter’s greatest achievement?

Veronica: I think MEDLIFE UT’s greatest achievement was participating in the Remote Area Medical Clinic (RAM) where 70 of our members were able to help provide thousands of dollars of free medical, dental, and optometry care to about 2,000 people around Florida who do not have access to health care. Our chapter compiled over 1,000 volunteer hours in just one weekend. Other great achievements were being awarded the University of Tampa’s Outstanding New Organization of the Year as well as MEDLIFE National’s Best New Chapter.

 

What did you do to get people engaged?

Nichole: When choosing service events, we try to find the most hands-on volunteering opportunities for our members. These may range from building houses with Habitat for Humanity to working a local Meals on Wheels route. We want our members to have a personal experience where they can work face to face with those in need. These interactions are the most impactful and allow our members to become fully engaged in their service work.

 

What is your most memorable experience working with MEDLIFE?

Veronica: One of my most memorable experiences working with MEDLIFE was participating in Paint Your Heart Out, Tampa Bay, where over 100 homes of those in need were painted. Our chapter painted the home of Dorothy, the sweetest old lady. She was extremely grateful and truly reminded us how important and impactful service is, even  in our local community.

14714947 332010713822387 9011338261986410291 oAside from volunteering in MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics, University of Tampa Chapter members volunteer locally regularly with organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

What plans do you have for the future of your chapter?

Veronica: Our next plan is to work on our chapter’s travel proposal so that MEDLIFE UT can  travel to international mobile clinics as a group, as well as participate in internal fundraising. We are also hoping to work on our social media to help continue to spread the word about MEDLIFE’s mission and our chapter.

 

Do you have any advice for other chapters?

Nichole: My advice is to find a cause and go for it. Listen to your members interests and find a way to satisfy them. Our members love the work that they do and it drives our organization. We have a group of incredibly motivated and dedicated individuals working to make a difference in the Tampa Bay Area, but it all starts with passion and a goal.

 

Find out how to start a MEDLIFE chapter at your school HERE

Dr. Gustavo Arnao García found his motivation to study medicine in his father, rheumatologist and former president of the Peruvian Society of Rheumatology. This example lead Dr. Gustavo to pursue his career of medicine at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos, the oldest university of the Americas.
 
The MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics working model is similar to what Dr. Gustavo does at the Peruvian Red Cross, a society he's been part of since 2011 and which allowed him to become an expert at attenting patients. MEDLIFE relies on local health care practitioners, like Dr. Arnao García, to engage best with the communities we work in and give volunteers a valuable learning experience.
 IMG 3671Dr. Arnao García is one of several doctors who works regularly with MEDLIFE in Lima.
How long have you been working for MEDLIFE?
For almost three years. A professional colleague that used to work for the Peruvian Red Cross asked me if I was interested in working for MEDLIFE. I met the people from the NGO, did some tests, and I’ve been working for MEDLIFE since then.  
 
What experience impacted you the most when working in Mobile Clinics? Any particular case or patient? 
I had the opportunity of seeing a case of decompensated diabetes with a patient that had a very deep ulcer in his lower leg. Luckily, with the right treatment and our patient follow up system, the patient got better. This experience was very impactul for me. 
 
What do you enjoy the most in the Mobile Clinics? 
 MEDLIFE's work is completely assistance-based and requires a lot of work in the field. Basically you go to places where there's extreme poverty and help the people that live there. I feel very grateful to help MEDLIFE in their mission.

 IMG 3624Dr. Arnao García is able to connect and communicate well with patients, as well as the volunteers that assist him. On mobile clinics, he can often be seen seen giving volunteers a hands on lesson in identifying symptoms common to patients around Lima.

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