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Natalia Pena: World Traveler & Future Pediatrician

I was given the chance to interview Natalia Pena, a junior here at Florida State studying Media Communications. She has big dreams and she is working hard in order to achieve them. She works at FSU and is extremely involved around Tallahassee! 

Her Campus (HC): What do you do outside of academics at FSU?

Natalia Pena (NP): Outside of FSU academics, I work at the Human Resource office over at the stadium and I am involved in the Pre-PA club where we volunteer and learn more about the field. I am also shadowing an orthopedics PA where I follow him and learn more about what he does on a regular basis.

HC: I heard you went to Ecuador during Spring Break, can you tell me about that?

NP: Yeah, I did! I have always wanted to do some type of medial volunteering in a foreign country and this Spring Break I was finally able do it. I looked into organizations here at FSU that would do such services. I stumbled upon the organization MEDLIFE who was going to do a medical mission trip over in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Once we arrived in Quito, Ecuador we took a seven-hour bus ride all the way to Esmeraldas. Our first day there (Sunday) we were able to explore the city and taste some of their food. Our hotel was right on the beach so were able to soak up the sun and get to know all the members that also had the chance to go. Monday was our first day of clinic. We rode over to a small village about an hour away from Esmeraldas. For the first half of the clinic I was able to work alongside a pediatrician where I was able to learn the common symptoms and how to treat them. The second half I was able to shadow a dentist where I saw fillings being done and cavities being cleaned. On Tuesday, a small group of us were taken to another village where we had to make cement from scratch and build stairs for that village so they are able to get to their homes easier. From Wednesday through Friday we had more clinics in different villages.

Apart from the pediatrician and dentist, I was also able to shadow a general doctor and a pharmacist. Apart from the doctors, we were also offered other areas of help at the clinic. When I wasn’t shadowing a doctor I was signing people in and telling them where to go and taking vitals (height, weight, temperature, blood pressure). The little kids were being taught how to properly brush their teeth as their parents were shown videos that educated them on how to prevent STDs, parasites, common colds, etc. When some of our shifts were done we were able to play and interact with the kids. I could honestly say this was the best part of the clinic. Seeing how a simple ball made them smile broke my heart. Their laugh and how excited they would get when we would talk to them made me speechless. Once clinics were done we would head back to the hotel and enjoy our time there. There were markets near by that we would go shopping and the food was a must try! 

HC: What’s your favorite part about FSU?

NP: My favorite part is the friends that I have managed to make here. When I first got here I was so surprised how friendly everyone was. The friends that I have made have become more like my family. FSU makes it easy for you to get involved in extracurricular activities. The atmosphere and spirit makes you feel right at home.

HC: Favorite memory during your time in Tallahassee?

NP: My favorite memory was during this year’s football season. I was able to get a ticket for the FSU vs. UM game. Being in that stadium with thousands of FSU fans and everyone doing the chop gave me chills. I love how passionate FSU fans are. I was able to share that experience with my boyfriend whom graduated from FSU last year so it was nice being able to have that same feeling with him.

HC: Where do you see yourself in five years?

NP: I see myself being a physician assistant, possibly having my own practice as a pediatrician. I would love to travel to new places I haven’t been before and hope to live in downtown Miami.

HC: Any advice to incoming freshman?

NP: My advice would be to enjoy your first two years of college. Get involved in as many things as you can, go out and have a good time, go to all the home football games as well as other sports, immerse yourself in the FSU tradition while having time to put effort into school. Volunteer all that you can. I know sometimes it may get rough and the idea of being away from home sounds scary, but the experience and the memories that you will create here you will not regret.

HC: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

NP: I don’t like chocolate or sweets. Lol I know, not your typical girl.

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