I need my people.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Five tiny fingers curled around the stethoscope as I listened to his weak heartbeat. Trying to drown out the tropical sounds around me - chickens, babies crying, groans of the elderly, a stray dog barking - I closed by eyes and focused on listening to this infant's heart. Something was definitely wrong. The seven-month old was the size of a newborn, exhausted from struggling for breath, his heart bearing the telltale sound "lub dub whoosh". The doctor at my side and I exchanged glances before telling the baby's anxious mother her child was dying of a congenital atrial septal defect; a hole in his heart he'd had from birth. Without emergency surgery, there was no hope for her son, but this was an empty suggestion for the young Jamaican mother. Extreme poverty and lack of access to medical care made surgery an impossibility.
During my time working in rural Jamaica as part of a medical team, I experienced what the textbook term "health disparity" means for real people. Every day I spent nine to ten hours in small, dusty health clinics across the island filled with sick and hurting patients. I saw children suffering from worms and malnutrition, elderly women with gangrenous infections and open wounds, and patients dying from the ravages of diabetes. As I held infants burning with fever or triaged ailing patients, I became aware of how truly desperate the need for medical treatment is in countries such as Jamaica. And yet, while our medical team dispersed much needed medications and pain relievers, I was personally frustrated with the temporary nature of our aid. We could only stay a few weeks, and within months our medicine would be gone and our patients returned to their original state of pain and disease. I quickly realized that sustainable change cannot be achieved without preventative action addressing the root causes of illness and health complications. Though I was previously a pre-med student, I suddenly understood that, more than anything, I wanted to prevent people in rural, disadvantaged communities from getting sick in the first place. I returned from Jamaica with a burning passion for illness prevention and immediately devoted myself to a career in global public health.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
See all those maps behind me? Those are all the places I want to go. And somehow, someday, it's going to happen.
I've spent literally all day working on scholarship applications for Jordan this summer. Each one has a slightly different focus, so some essays are direct and concise, others pull at heart-strings, some tell stories of death and the need for preventative action, while another places the emphasis on cultural exposure. You have to be strategic with these things, so I've spent hours researching the different foundations, analyzing past winners, and "spiking" potential questions/concerns (you debaters will get my drift). If I can get just one of these, I'll be set to go...I just need to transform myself into the most intriguing, potential-filled student on the face of the planet. Well, nation in this case.
I just need them to love me and then I can put a checkmark on one of those maps.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
In terms of pure survival right now, there's too much to do and that's due. It's only three weeks until finals, but my professors haven't noticed so the papers, group projects, exams, quizzes, and assignments keep piling up. Just today my Ethnic Studies professor handed out an assignment, due in five days, of an 8 page paper. Lovely. And the scholarship that's gonna pay my way to Jordan is due in those same five days. Lovely.
But also, there are a million things I WANT to do. There are so many incredible opportunities and possibilities here, the excited little over-achiever in me wants to do *all* of them. Everything is so incredibly fascinating, so challenging, so eye-opening, so impactful....I need like four different clones.
- Taking too many classes
- Working as a college ambassador; giving tours, running phone marathons, and speaking on student panels
- Interning at the International Rescue Committee as an ESL teacher to newly arrived refugees from all over the world
- Going to Jordan to study public health and work in a refugee camp this summer
- To accept Dr. Shirk's offer to help conduct research on cartel-related deaths on the U.S.-Mexican border
- To accept Dr. Yarris' offer to help conduct research on mental illness in rural Nicaragua
- Get involved with the spoken word club here on campus
- Join the public health global brigade team that goes to Ghana and Honduras every year to build water infrastructure
- Go to Colorado with Habitat for Humanity over spring break, and Louisiana over the summer
- Help establish an IRC headquarters here on campus
- Add another major
But....there is no time. I'm beginning to agree with an old friend that sleep is simply impractical. I wish I could plug myself in and just charge, rejuvenate, as I worked. Actually getting to use all 24 hours of the day would be so productive...seriously.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I'm working on a midterm paper and I've rewritten, reworded, and reworked this one sentence seven different times. It sits there on the page defying me; refusing to cooperate with what my mind envisions. There's a powerful statement lurking in my thoughts, but it seems impossible to put it into powerful words. I keep leaving it and moving on to other paragraphs, but it smiles at me from the top of the page. It thinks it's won.
Monday, February 6, 2012
We live in a contradictory country that's bent on punishing the poor.
Sure, I'm a broke college student who's resorted to somewhat desperate measures (like stealing toilet paper from the gym. There aren't cameras in there, you know.), so maybe I'm a tad jaded, but STILL. I have an opinion. You can't discredit me because I'm broke. For christ's sake, I should be the one you're listening most carefully to.
I'm sitting here trying to submit my FAFSA and I can just feel the government peering down through narrow spectacles, "you're a scammer". No seriously!! I'm poor as dirt, promise. Cross my heart. Pinky swear. Want my firstborn?
First of all, I'm classified as a dependent. I'm NOT a dependent. But because I wasn't born before 1989, orphaned as a child, part of the military, or homeless, I'm a dependent. So bam, I've got to report my parents' income. Whoop-de-doo.
Secondly, okay fine, I'll file as mom's dependent. Cool. Problem is, mom made significantly less in 2011 than in 2010. Thanks budget-cuts that laid off a bazillion teachers. Thanks. When I report her adjusted gross income, FAFSA says "There's a problem! Your mom's technically broke too!" No shit, sherlock. So now I have to report my dad's income. Well, dad makes bank, but this college kid doesn't see it, sooo....lovely. FAFSA's gonna see a fat income that means nothing to me. I can just see my Pell and CA Grants swirling down the drain. They're waving.
It's a system that's not designed to recognize the complexities of socio-economic circumstances. You know, not everyone fits into a nice little box. I'm terrified my dad's income is going to nullify any possibility of getting a single scholarship. I'd be sunk. Officially. Gonna start holding my cardboard sign on the corner...."help a college student BE a college student!!"
Saturday, February 4, 2012
(I'm top, middle)
Really, it's just a fancy name for tour guide....but I think ambassador sounds snazzier. There we are! I'm surrounded by the most up-beat, cheerful, exciting people who are ridiculously passionate about the campus and student life here. It's the best job in the whole world.