Meet the Interns Summer 2016 part 1 - MEDLIFE

Meet the Interns Summer 2016 part 1


Name: Alexa Friedman

Hometown: Cortlandt Manor, New York

School: University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT ; University of Connecticut School of Medicine Farmington, CT.

Major: Human Health Sciences, B.S with minors in Human Rights and Biological Sciences; Masters of Public Health


How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I first took interest in my school’s chapter and became interested in attending one of the clinics. After many of my fellow students attended a clinic, I heard that they hired interns. After some research, I realized this internship opportunity was the perfect chance to combine my interests in human health, science and human rights in a unique way. I am so thankful to be given the chance to work with such a unique organization and such good people.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: My goals long term are to work in the field of public health to improve the access and quality of health care worldwide. I believe that health should be a human right, and plan to work towards that in the years to come. My hope one day is that everyone has the equal opportunity to have good health. Other than that, I love to read, eat food and hang out with my family and two amazing dogs.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I decided to become an intern because with such a different and growing non-profit organization like MEDLIFE, I knew that my voice and opinions would be able to be heard. Because of this, I knew that I could actually make a difference in the community. Also, I wanted the chance to grow and experience first hand the work in the public health field. I strongly believe in MEDLIFE’s mission to improve quality of life through medicine, education and development and hope to be a part of their success.

What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was that the driving here is insane, and, I don’t think that this will ever seize to amaze me. But Lima is a wonderful, huge and diverse city full of culture and liveness. I was amazed at how modern and metropolitan the city really was.

What are your goals for this internship?: My goal is to be able to expand my knowledge and perspective on global health, access to health care and quality of health care delivery. Additionally, I hope to leave Peru and MEDLIFE with something that will continue to enhance the experience of those who attend the clinics, both for volunteers and patients.


Name: Alex Hatke

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

School: The Ohio State University

Major: Environmental Public Health


How I got involved with MEDLIFE: One of the first friends I made when heading off to college was a member of the Executive Board who heard me explaining how I wanted to get involved abroad and participate in some sort of medical mission trip. He then told me about a Mobile Clinic trip to Lima that was leaving right after my first semester. Without much persuasion I signed up for a trip and came to Peru without knowing much about what MEDLIFE was really about or what kind of reality many people around the world are dealing with every day. The trip really opened my eyes and started me down a path of both pursuing Public Health as well as wanting to become more involved with MEDLIFE.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was actually born in South Korea but was adopted and raised from a young age in Cincinnati. While I wouldn’t consider myself a die hard Cincinnatian like some of the other citizens, I definitely miss having Skyline and the personality of my city and its inhabitants. I’ve always loved traveling and trying new things, even if it means I have to put myself out there and get a little uncomfortable. I like to try new things and I believe everyone should be open minded about new experiences, because it’s entirely possible to fall in love with it, but also because shared experiences and education helps break down cultural barriers and build international relationships.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: Immediately after my first mobile Clinic, I knew I wanted to not only go back, but to really spend sometime abroad and learn the area, as well as have a bigger impact. One week is only a taste of what is possible with some hard work and a solid team, and I really wanted to be a part of the effort in the area and get hands on with the communities as well as being a major player in the behind the scenes work in the offices.

What was your first impression of Lima?: It seems each time I come to Lima I arrive very tired and on little sleep, so I’m always surprised by how loud and bright everything is. It’s very possible I’m just tired and grumpy, however people are much more willing to honk around here as it isn’t quite as much of an offensive action as it is just a passive gesture between drivers.

What are your goals for this internship?: For me, I really want to grow into this position. It’s my chance to get a taste of more real and practical work and gain some experience. I totally want to work on my Spanish while here and I definitely plan on acting like a local and eating some interesting cuisine. I also want to do my best to essentially bear witness to everything, soak up the feeling of something that’s very public health oriented, while also taking this chance to really see the realities that people face and beginning to ask what we can do to help these people. I really hope to take away some big ideas from this and one of my biggest desires is to be able to apply even some of this knowledge and improve upon, while also spreading some awareness in the meantime.


Name: Tatiana Gerena

Hometown: Miami, FL

School: University of Florida- Go Gators!

Major: Chemistry


How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I was originally studying to be an engineer before deciding to make the switch to medicine. My brother, Roly, who was an intern last summer and an active member of the MEDLIFE chapter at FSU, encouraged me to become a part of the chapter at my school.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m starting my junior year this coming fall. Even though I am a chemistry major, I love my nutrition and sociology classes. I love to dance to almost any kind of music and signed up to take an African dancing class in the fall and just became a part of the belly dancing club in my school. If I’m not studying for an upcoming chem exam, you can find me eating (I love sweets), reading, or ‘netflixing’. I have three spirit animals: turtle, lemur, and honey badger and I love, love, love to travel and see new beautiful places and meet all kinds of people J

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I heard about the internship through my older brother and decided to look into it. On my trip to Ecuador it was mentioned to me again, and I was pretty much sold already. I decided to become an intern because I share MEDLIFE’s mission and vision. As a volunteer I learned so much about the conditions in South America and all the help we can provide, and knew that as an intern I could do so much more. Not only can I, myself, make a difference but I can help others do the same.

What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was definitely that they had a very busy airport. But in terms of the rest of the city, I think Lima is beautiful! It’s so full of life and always moving. I have been to several different places in Central and South America and, to me, it’s so impressive how each region can have its own personality and its own story. I’m not too familiar with the area yet, but I look forward to discovering all that it has to offer and leave my mark on this city.

What are your goals for this internship?: My goals for this internship manifest on personal and professional levels. Personally, I want to grow as a person in my ideas and goals for the future. When I finish studying, I hope to be a doctor and I hope that this internship will further help me realize that I am on the right path and that I’m doing something that I love. I also hope to meet new people, in the other interns and MEDLIFE staff as well as locals, and hopefully make friends for life.

At this end of this internship I hope to gain skills that will benefit me professionally, such as public speaking skills and just getting used to working in an office setting. Finally, I hope to bring back knowledge to my chapter at the University of Florida and further develop it. It’s a relatively new chapter so I hope to contribute a lot of what I learn here.

supporters8Name: Georgina Mezher

Hometown: Hatfield, PA

School: University of Delaware

Major: Applied Nutrition; Public Health and Health and Wellness minors


How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I heard about MEDLIFE through a mutual friend who had previously gone on a trip to Lima. I did not know my school had a chapter at that time and so my friend and I decided to attend a mobile clinic trip to Lima on our own the summer after my Freshman year. I left Lima with the best impression of MEDLIFE and what we stood for, which is why I wanted to attend another trip. The following summer I convinced my best friend from home to accompany me on a mobile clinic trip to Cusco. I applied for the executive board at my school and became the secretary. To continue my involvement with MEDLIFE, I looked into the internship; I would have never imagined living in Lima for a whole summer just because of going on that first mobile clinic trip. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Brooklyn, NY but raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. My parents are from Venezuela, which is how I learned how to speak Spanish fluently. I went to a small private high school, which is what interested me in attending a larger university. Delaware seemed like the best fit because of its size and one hour distance from home. I became very involved with service in college as I joined the MEDLIFE club at my school and joined a co-ed service fraternity where I made most of my friendships. I would definitely consider myself as someone who loves to serve.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: Being on the MEDLIFE executive board at my school just did not seem like enough. I wanted to do something different, and I would consider MEDLIFE not your typical internship. I wanted this internship to allow me to explore career paths in the future and also assist me in bringing new ideas to the chapter at Delaware.

What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was how beautiful the country is despite the poverty. It seemed like some areas have wealthy looking homes while others barely have a standing wall. You can see the division between both sides, where tourism is a significant factor in the city. 

What are your goals for this internship?: From this internship I hope to gain experience and independence. Living in a country 3500 miles away from home for the summer is not easy, and I want this internship to allow me to grow as a person. I want to take advantage of my time here and learn as much as possible so that I have more to bring back to the states. I also want to learn more about MEDLIFE so that I can find better ways to explain the organization to people at home.  


Name: Kevin de Wit

Hometown: Holambra, SP, Brazil

School: Leiden University College, Leiden University

Major: Governance, Economics and Development


How I got involved with MEDLIFE?: Summer Internship 2016 and starting a MEDLIFE chapter at my University.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Brazil and have lived in a couple of countries ever since. I am now studying in the Netherlands in a small liberal arts and sciences college (Leiden University College), and I guess I have come to realize that travelling, living challenges and learning through them are the fundamental parts that made me who I am today. I really enjoy volunteering and helping people (hence, I am here), as through these activities I feel incredibly rewarded and content. I have set up a couple of different projects, such as an Interact, Peace Jam group at my high school, a youth forum at the British Library and now a MEDLIFE student chapter at my University; developing new projects thrills me. As you can probably tell, I get very involved with a variety of different things, but I always try to make time for friends, as well as volleyball, theatre and, as of recent, dance. These creative and physical activities always give me the energy I need to tackle whatever is to come ahead.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I was seeking an opportunity to work at an NGO over the summer and was considering an opportunity in South America. After some time spent researching (namely on google) I found an article mentioning MEDLIFE, praising its work, and that triggered my curiosity. I went through the website and the information that was available to me at the time. MEDLIFE struck me as a unique and transparent organization; I knew that MEDLIFE was not only concerned about helping people, but doing so in ways that were significant and meaningful to the respective families (identifying and cooperating with the local community’s issues). I decided to become an intern because I respected this and wanted to engage and become a meaningful part of MEDLIFE’s activities during the summer.

What was your first impression of Lima?: A deceptive paradox exists in Lima during “winter”: The skies are grey and the environment is urban and fast paced as any big city usually is, but there is an energy and resilience that reminds me so much of Brazil. This “paradox” however was easily explained the instance I spoke to some of the people who lived here and the Peruvian I met in the plane on my way here. The people have energy, charm; they are incredibly approachable in a very “South American way”. I feel, perhaps not so surprisingly, at home; very much the same way I would feel in Brazil. I guess if I were to sum up my first impression of Lima I would say that it is a city that resembles a home; no home is perfect but it is always surprising to catch yourself growing more at ease and content to be there.

What are your goals for this internship?: My goal for this internship is to develop conections. MEDLIFE is an organization that I got to know while searching for opportunities at different NGO’s as it stood out and striked me as having a conscientious and reflective approach; it has the exact approach that I wanted. Therefore, my goal is to get to know MEDLIFE even better, its dynamics, how it operates, and then hopefully bring this back home in order to develop a chapter and a link that I think will be valuable for my University and myself. Furthermore, I know that in my life I want to seek different opportunities and ways to help people, and I want to assess whether working long-term at an NGO is the right thing for me. 

supporters13Name: Ian McHale

Hometown: Hamilton, New Jersey

School: University of Vermont

Major: Biology and Community and International Development Minor


How I got involved with MEDLIFE?: I first got involved with MEDLIFE at the University of Vermont by joining our local chapter during my Freshman year. I went on my first brigade the summer of my freshman year to Cusco, Peru which was absolutely life changing. My Sophomore year I became Vice President and Brigades Officer for our chapter since I wanted everyone to be able to experience volunteering with MEDLIFE. The summer of my Sophomore year I then went on my second brigade to Esmeraldas, Ecuador and that is how I heard about this internship! The following year, my Junior year I became the President of our chapter at UVM and I am now a Volunteer Affairs Intern!!!

Tell us a little bit about yourself?: So my name is Ian and I go to the University of Vermont! I absolutely love it at UVM, from the picturesque campus to great group of friends I’ve made. I am a DREAM mentor for my two awesome mentees Keshon and Kiki, I volunteer at the University of Vermont Medical Center on the pediatric floor, I am the president of MEDVIDA, our local chapter of MEDLIFE, and I am a member of the UVM Triathlon club. I love being outdoors hiking, snowboarding, and camping and I am always doing something weird and spontaneous. I am excited to be a MEDLIFE Volunteer Affairs Intern and to live in Lima for the summer!

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I have decided to become an intern because I have been very involved with MEDLIFE for my past three years at the University of Vermont and being an integral part of our local chapter has helped me gain a great appreciation for MEDLIFE and the work MEDLIFE does. I support MEDLIFE and want to volunteer for MEDLIFE because I’m passionate about and support organizations that have similar missions and values as myself. This internship will allow me to achieve a better understanding of community development in the real world and gain clinical experience while working on mobile clinics.

What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of lima was WOW! When I got picked up from the airport, on the way to our apartment I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the city! I can’t wait to explore it over my time as a Volunteer Affairs Intern.

What are your goals for this internship?: My goal for this internship is to connect my Biology major and Community and International Development minor through helping with the planning and implementation of sustainable community development projects that help bring medical access to vulnerable communities.