My name is Vanna Ramirez and I recently graduated Skidmore College in the class of 2018 as a Studio Art major on the pre-med track with a Chemistry minor. As a new graduate, this summer represents my last Skidmore-provided experience as a student.
Throughout college, I have spent much time considering which career path I wanted to pursue after graduation. While I have been preparing to enter into the field of healthcare, I wanted a an opportunity where I could gain a larger perspective of the world before making the huge commitment that is studying and pursuing medicine. Additionally, I have always been interested in expanding my language abilities and intercultural experiences, opening myself up to a greater world of communication. Both personally and professionally, I am dedicated to continue my education learning Spanish. That’s when I was first learned about the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) through Delaney Scollen ’12, currently a first-year medical student, who presented on her experience working for this organization earlier this year at Skidmore.
FIMRC is an international, non-profit organization that works toward providing quality healthcare to underprivileged communities in developing countries through innovative and self-sustainable health improvement programs. Specifically, their Summer International Health Fellowship (SIHF) program provides undergraduate and graduate students, pursuing a career in the health profession, with clinical and public health experience while working closely with community members to understand and address their health dilemmas. With Spanish-speaking locations in Peru, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic, I was excited with the idea of attending this program that combined my interests of Spanish, medicine and community involvement. Fortunately, I applied and was accepted for their summer program where I worked with the FIMRC team for two months in the small city of La Merced, Peru.
My experiences volunteering in La Merced included a variety of activities involving local community interactions and clinical observations, which allowed me to learn about the different aspects of healthcare in Peru. In our public health efforts, I worked in small groups with my fellow volunteers to plan and lead health education workshops in local partner schools for FIMRC’s Vida Saludable program, assisted staff with PRONOEI workshops in small, rural communities outside La Merced, and worked on an independent group project involving research and design of a locally-sourced nutrition guide. As for our clinical experience, we were scheduled for weekly observations in the local hospital in various areas of medicine, including cardiology, pulmonology, triage, pharmacy, traumatology, and surgery in the operating room. We also assisted clinical staff at a local Child Development Unit (CRED) with measuring patient growth development and taking blood pressure in triage.
Without the financial support from Skidmore’s Summer Experience Fund and my family, I would not have been able to attend FIMRC’s summer volunteer program. I am so grateful for such an amazing opportunity to learn and grow as a leader and team member, mature with independence and cross-cultural experiences, and continue improving my Spanish-speaking abilities while serving the community. I was always inspired by the kindness, compassion and enthusiasm of the people around me, and I hope to continue sharing the same as I venture forward into the world beyond academia.