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Students Visit Peru for Medical Mission

Twelve University of St. Thomas Pre-Health Profession Society members kicked off their summer embracing the University’s mission to serve others on the 2013 medical mission trip. The group traveled to Huancayo, Peru, from May 19 - 28.

PHPS collaborated with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children to organize the fifth annual trip to South America. The student participants fundraised $1,000 per person for the trip via car washes, T-shirt sales and donations from Student Government Association and Council of Clubs. Led by alumna Irene Gutierrez, other members included Nelson Castellon, Angela Cortez, Joyce Chuen, Jonathan Cruz, Irene Gutierrez, Jisha Jose, Nema Kheradmand, Jennifer Le, Alin Nguyen, Claudio Pacheco, Adriana Padilla and Huzefa Tayabali.

The group participated in different activities every day, ranging from visiting Huancayo Medical School to area hospitals and clinics.

“Our schedule was very busy,” Gutierrez said. “At the medical school, we were given a presentation over the healthcare system of Peru, and we visited and shadowed doctors at different hospitals.”

In addition to experiencing firsthand the healthcare system in Peru, the group also visited an orphanage and elementary school.

“We gave them ‘charlas’, or talks, about health topics that we felt were appropriate for their age groups, such as personal hygiene and food groups,” Gutierrez said. “We also had an opportunity to visit kindergarteners at an elementary school where we gave more than 200 kids a fluoride treatment.”

Junior nursing major Nelson Castellon commented on his experience and how it changed his perspective on life.

“I enjoyed making a significant impact in the physical and emotional health of many kids by providing hands-on medical help and spending quality time with them,” Castellon said. “It provided me with a whole new outlook in life. I realized the noise caused by technology and other luxuries make it so easy for us to lose focus on what the real purpose of life is -- to live through and for others. It also helped me understand and cherish life a bit more.”

The Pre-Health Professions Society helps develop more informed and competitive health professions students in preparation for careers in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and other health-related occupations. UST boasts a 73 percent medical school acceptance rate.

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