French Studies and Neuroscience T'19
Current PositionM.D. Student, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
The year I first walked onto Duke campus, 2015, was also the year that more than a million migrants applied for asylum in Europe. I dedicated myself to learning more: What led people to undertake these difficult journeys, who were the people leaving, what were their stories, where were they going, and how did they adjust to their new countries.
I had been taking French for a number of years, started volunteering with the Francophone refugee community in Durham, and then with my interest in health care, this project was the perfect amalgamation of my skills and interests. But this research also gave me a whole new set of skills, and has shaped my future goals in profound ways.
I learned how invaluable qualitative research can be and how to ask good questions, conduct focus groups, and honor individual responses while refining the overarching themes. I learned how to build a really good poster – the Best Poster that year – and when it came to publish, I learned the agony of drafting and redrafting, but then finally the sense of pride that complete strangers to me were going to be able to learn from the work we did and build on it.
I learned about the immense struggles people can go through to access health care in the United States, and also what they value in their healthcare providers and the care they receive. Hearing these experiences humbled me and showed me how patients are so much more than their chief complaint. It is important to recognize not only their biology, but also their mental health, social life and lived environment. It is only then that we can come closer to a true diagnosis and then an appropriate treatment.
This biopsychosocial model of medicine was established at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where I am soon to begin my second year. Here, I have been able to utilize my research experience as I now look into culturally-appropriate depression screening tools, and work toward improving how our student-run health clinics serve the local population. Through my leadership positions in the Family Medicine and Public Health Interest Groups, I have been able to share my passion for accessible, quality health care for everyone. And I am still learning more through my participation in the Latino Health and Global Health Pathways, but I will always be grateful for my experiences with Bass Connections for setting me on this journey.