At UGA, MEDLIFE’s Mission Hits Close to Home

Student leaders at UGA’s MEDLIFE chapter have distinguished themselves with their dedication to community service, not only on their Mobile Clinic trips in South America, but at home in Athens, Georgia as well. This year, they successfully applied the MEDLIFE approach of listening to the community and responding to their needs to complete improvement projects at the Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela Hispanic Community Center.

They started by meeting with the community center’s director, Sister Margarita, to determine what the most urgent needs of the center were, and how they could help. She showed them the rotting floors of the trailers where after-school tutoring programs are held, and gave them a prioritized list of projects she would like to see completed. In September 2012, the chapter’s executive board applied for a Sustainable Service grant from Volunteer UGA, and were awarded $8,000 to replace floors and create a parking lot. They spent the next several months planning the project and gathering materials and volunteers.


In February, more than 40 volunteers, including undergraduate students, medical students, and a faculty member, worked in shifts throughout the weekend to re-floor and carpet two trailers. Chapter president Sarah Premji says the volunteers’ reward was in seeing the finished project and hearing words of thanks from the many community members who stopped by. “The trailers had been developing holes in the floor, and you could see the ground in certain places,” she told us. “With the completion of this project, Sister Margarita can rest assured that the children and tutors who participate in the after-school tutoring program will be in a safe, secure environment. There is no longer any danger of anyone falling through the rotting floor.” At the end of March, the volunteers came together once again to build a gravel parking lot, to provide a safer place where volunteers can park and monthly food donations can be dropped off.


At a large school like UGA, getting this level of organization and participation in a student group can be a challenge. The UGA MEDLIFE chapter owes its success to a strong 6-person executive board, and an innovative approach. As the chapter grew, they found that member commitment dropped off; said Sarah, “meetings became less personal and members felt less comfortable talking to each other.” So this year, they decided to split the chapter up into “family groups” which would foster open discussion and natural relationships within the chapter, and play to the strengths and interests of its individual members. Sarah reports that the new initiative has been a success: “In just one and a half semesters, MEDLIFE at UGA has seen increased member commitment and involvement,” she says. The new structure gives all chapter members the opportunity to be leaders within the organization.

ugaawardMembers of UGA MEDLIFE’s executive board at an awards ceremony honoring student organizations

UGA has also brought us some of this year’s best fundraisers, from the Run For (Your) Life Zombie 5K in the fall, to the upcoming Battle of the Bands happening this month. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next!


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.