Last week, we joined the Brown University MEDLIFE Chapter on campus for their last meeting of the year. As about 25 students shared pizza and soda, co-presidents Katie Deangelis and Abby Kerson summarized the chapter’s accomplishments throughout the year, highlighting their increased visibility on campus, participation in two Mobile Clinics, and multiple large-scale fundraisers.
This year, the chapter raised $1,500 for the MEDLIFE Project Fund – enough to fund approximately 1.5 staircase projects in Pamplona, Peru. One of their most successful fundraisers was a raffle that required prizes to be donated by local businesses, and a heavy publicity push to get fellow students to buy tickets. Members expressed that this was a great way to reach out to the broader community and to cultivate new, local partners.
Nora Orton, a chapter member who now helps organize Brown’s Mobile Clinic trips, also shared photos during the meeting from the two Mobile Clinics that Brown students participated in this year. Norah first got involved with MEDLIFE as a freshman when she saw a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic trip advertised through the campus morning email. On a bit of a whim, she signed up for and attended a clinic in Riobamba, Ecuador, during the spring of 2011.
After returning from the trip, she was inspired to share her experience and recruit other students, as well as to work on improving the trip for future participants. Using her MEDLIFE knowledge she designed ways to prepare students for future Mobile Clinics, such as creating laminated cards with Spanish-English translations of clinic vocabulary. Although chapters often express a desire to see another country, Nora chose to lead her group back to her first clinic site in Riobamba, Ecuador.
“I was the one who had one of the strongest opinions, and I said, ‘I would really like it if we could go back to Riobamba.’ I had this feeling that we could make more of an impact by creating some sort of sustainable relationship with the same place.”
One of the accomplishments that Brown’s Chapter is most proud of is the implementation of a new initiative its members call the “Community Health and Development Program.” Spearheaded by Katie, the program aims to help members connect their work in Latin America to the Brown campus by investigating public health issues relevant to both populations.
“We had this goal of making what we do here seem bigger than just Brown. We wanted to maintain the energy students get from the Mobile Clinics by getting more involved with the local community. We definitely also want to incorporate a community service aspect to the chapter, where members volunteer once a month.”
The project idea grew out of a seminar that the chapter coordinated on vaccine safety and awareness. The seminar touched on the importance of vaccines in preventing illness in developing countries, but also explained the anti-vaccine debate in the U.S. and gave practical information to students about what vaccinations they can receive on campus.
Katie believes that their success this year can be attributed to a few factors. “I think it really rested on the combination of the energy of those who had participated in a Mobile Clinic last spring bringing that energy to the new school year, and the organization of the e-board. We had our recruitment strategy and fundraisers planned out before the fall semester even started, and made it really easy for new students to get involved.”
Currently MEDLIFE is looking to hear more stories from student chapters on campus. If you have a few minutes to spare, please submit a short video response detailing your accomplishments this year by following these instructions. Thank you for your participation!