Meet the Interns: Biz


Elizabeth Shenk, AKA “Biz”, came all the way from New Jersey to take on a year-long internship for MEDLIFE in Lima, Peru. Now she’s back in the United States for the next month touring the Mid-Atlantic region for our One Billion+ Campaign Tour. Find out what motivates her to work day in and day out for our cause:

Where are you from?

I am from Chatham, New Jersey and I studied Psychology and Latin American & Latino studies at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?

I actually had no experience with MEDLIFE prior to the internship because Holy Cross does not currently have a chapter. I came across a posting for the year-long internship as I was searching for opportunities to work hands-on in Latin America, and after looking through the website and reading some of the incredible patient stories, I applied.

Why did you decide to become an intern?

After graduation, I wanted to jump right into working in an exciting field that would allow me to coordinate directly with community members and gain cultural insight into the problems they face. For me, it was an opportunity to investigate how certain regions of Peru have become impoverished and how the social, political and physical aspects deter these populations from thriving.

What was your first impression of Peru? / What has surprised you about Peru?

My first impression of Peru was back when I studied abroad in Lima my junior year of college. I was astounded by the diversity among the regions and the kindness of the people, who have made living in a foreign country much easier than I expected.

What do you look forward to most this year? 

I am looking forward to developing lasting relationships with patients and community members as we follow-up with them throughout the year. I was fortunate enough to accompany Carlos Benavides to a community meeting in Pamplona Alta in the outskirts of Lima, during which members from various parts of the area met to discuss current issues and upcoming projects. Listening to their discussions and hearing how much they appreciate MEDLIFE’s work, I am especially looking forward to assisting with the implementation of these projects and being a part of the gradual growth of these communities.   

Tell us an anecdote from your experience with MEDLIFE thus far: 

We recently returned from a Mobile Clinic in Cusco, which began less than a week after my arrival to Lima. I was immediately thrown into everything and loved learning on the fly. At the end of one of the clinics, I asked the MEDLIFE doctor if he could look at my infected thumbnail that I had slammed in a car door a month earlier. He told me that the new nail was not growing in properly and that the old nail had to be ripped off. So there I sat as he removed it, tearing up and clutching a wad of tissues. Then I realized- I was in a small schoolhouse in the middle of the Andes, where members of the community had come to seek treatment for serious infections, parasites or other illnesses, because many of them had never received formal medical treatment before. How could I complain? Experiences like this have put things in perspective for me, as I have come to recognize the quality medical attention I have always received at home in the United States.


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.