Laser spectroscopy research on gold fluoride; exploration of vocation with Twin Cities’ immigrant and refugee communities; varsity cross-country and track; learning the African language of Bambara; research at the University of Sydney, Australia, on polyaromatic hydrocarbons; an internship at Medtronic; a fellowship to shadow physicians—these only begin to describe my experiences at Macalester.
I came to Macalester committed to chemistry and medical school, but I had no idea Macalester would draw me into so many other fields of exploration.
In my medical anthropology courses, I explored the processes, challenges, and successes of global health initiatives, which required me to look beyond diseases to the people struggling through these diseases and the world in which they live.
One December, I found myself riding on a motorcycle behind Kader Coulibaly, the vaccinator for the commune of Sanankoroba, Mali. Between us we held eight mosquito nets and a safety box. In front of Kader sat an old cardboard box full of syringes, vitamin A supplements, and children’s vaccination records. Off each handlebar hung a cooler adorned with “Kick polio out of Mali and Africa” and filled with ice packs and vaccines.
We were on our way to NTabakoro, a small village 10 kilometers from the paved road. Upon arrival, we greeted the village chief and explained that we were there to vaccinate the village’s children. Moments later, I heard the sound of beating drums, signaling the women to come. Mothers began to walk into the compound (babies strapped on their backs) to have their children vaccinated.
While on study abroad in Sanankoroba, I lived what I had learned in class. Medicine must consider the social, economic, and political factors relevant to healthcare. The vaccination campaign could not succeed without a critical understanding of the community.
I returned from study abroad with a renewed sense of commitment to every aspect of global health. Macalester has truly given me a liberal education, the opportunity to study in depth my passion for health through a diversity of approaches and disciplines. Now I have embarked upon medical school at the University of Minnesota and life beyond, knowing that my experiences at Macalester have provided a firm foundation.