Hey Friends. It has been a long time! Have no fear, I have a lot of posts coming down the pipeline but before I get to those in the upcoming months, I have an important update.
Read below! It's long but I promise you it's good! :-)
Sitting in an auditorium as a sophomore in high school, I had plans to become a physician. I am not exactly sure when I knew that would be the path that I wanted to pursue, but I knew that somewhere inside of me, I had already recognized that I desired to become a pediatrician and help heal and save all the children worldwide. Although I now realize that those lofty goals had a touch of naivety, but somehow I knew that regardless of the turns my path would take, I would ultimately end up dedicating my life to service with global health as a crucial part of it all. As I sat in that auditorium one of our alumni, Dr. John Ziegler, was being awarded with our annual community service award. Unexpectedly, that day, I was inspired in a way that I never knew was possible. After training and practicing domestically, Dr. Ziegler eventually helped found the Uganda Cancer Institute, the first dedicated cancer center in Sub-Sahara Africa. He would return to the states and work domestically for another 10-15 years, before going back to Uganda after its civil war helping to restore its medical school and continue to serve at the Cancer Institute. After hearing about his accolades, I felt confident not necessarily that I would have the same level of success or impact as Dr. Ziegler, but rather that I too could forge my own path in the medical field, combining my passion of global health with a desire to still spend time serving my own communities domestically.
I was in the beginning of my fourth year of medical school when I found out about the opportunity to complete a global health elective. With barely knowing any of the details, I quickly worked on a way of how I could possibly fit it into my schedule. After talking with one of my friends who was in the midst of completing the same elective, I sent emails and started the application process. The timing felt fortuitous and as I waited to hear back from the application committee, my internal emotions continuously dictated to me that this was meant to be. That this global health experience was a way for me to not only experience another another culture through the lens of medicine, but also to complete my medical education whilst serving in the exact capacity that helped sparked my initial interest in becoming a physician.
Never having been to the “Motherland”, I knew that Zimbabwe and Uganda were at the top of my rank list. However, even if I had been selected for any of the other locations, I would have been equally excited just for the fact that I would have the opportunity to learn and practice medicine and be immersed in a culture that is not my own. When I received the notification that I had been accepted, it further solidified that this experience felt to be unique for me, even if in all reality it was not. A few days after receiving my acceptance to the program, I was informed that I would be going to Uganda. By this point, I knew of a few friends that had traveled to Uganda for the same elective, but I also knew that everyone’s experience although equally impactful, was different. Almost forgetting that Uganda was the same country that Dr. Ziegler had worked almost 30 years prior, I was already overcome with a mixture of excitement and anxiety about what was to come. As I have done a lot of preparation of the last month, it still feels very surreal. I have been fortunate to talk with friends from different walks of life who have traveled to Uganda and provided recommendations of what to expect, but I am also aware that I can only prepare so much. My type A personality causes me to want to plan every possible detail, but I am aware that I will experience so much and see so much, both good and bad, and much of which I can never full prepare for. This will be the third time that I have spent a significant amount of time living abroad, but I do foresee that this will be the most impactful. My previous abroad experiences were both amazing in their own way, but not only am I beginning my career as a global health medical professional, but I will also be culminating my medical education. Not only am I being provided the opportunity to immerse myself in a brand new culture, but I am also being provided the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that is representative of me and my ancestral roots.
I was 16 years old when I knew that I wanted to practice medicine globally in some capacity during my career. During medical school I would find that as much as I loved children, I did not want to be a pediatrician but rather an obstetrician/gynecologist, and though it has taken me 15 years to experience my first significant global health experience, going to Uganda not only is perfect timing, it is truly coming full circle.
So yes friends, I am heading to Uganda TODAY. I will be there for 6 weeks and will be posting reflections throughout my trip. I look forward to sharing this experience with you, so please follow along here and through my IG @kareskorner