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MEDLIFE Chapter Spotlight: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
By Aidan Wells
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!
Members 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 MEDLIFEâ€™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 â€œGlobal Health Triviaâ€ segment to educate members on medical issues, fostering important discussions. We also implemented a â€œMedical Spanish Phrases of the Dayâ€ 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 â€œMEDLIFE Scholarshipâ€ to award our highest point earners and help them pay for their trip to Peru.
In your opinion, what is your chapterâ€™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.
The 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!
The 2017 MEDLIFE Texas Rio Grande Valley Executive Board.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.