This past summer, Melissa Kenney, a UConn junior studying Physiology and Neurobiology, went to the Dominican Republic on an Alternative Break with the UConn Pre-Med Society. She enjoyed the experience so much that she decided to become a director for the next trip. Read on to learn all about her experiences and what you can do to get involved!
[Melissa (right) works on a patient in the Dominican Republic]
Name: Melissa Kenney
Major: Physiology and Neurobiology
Hometown: Cheshire, CT
Other activities: Melissa is part of club swimming, a lifeguard in the summer, and is studying abroad in Granada, Spain this fall
What is the purpose of the Pre-Med Society?
The purpose of the pre med society is to offer students on the pre-med track an opportunity to network, connect with other peers, and learn more about the fields they are interested in.
Can you describe past trips to us?
Last summer was the first time this trip was run and it was made possible by 2 members of the pre-med society that had the idea to put together a service trip specifically for students interested in the humanitarian side of medicine. They worked through an organization in the Dominican Republic called Guanin Inc. which helped us to set up hospital shadows, health clinics for members of the community with little to no access to health care, and a few fun activities with members of the local community. The trip was two weeks at the end of May and consisted of about 15 UConn students.
What was your favorite part about last year’s trip?
The coolest part about setting up health clinics and working with doctors in the Dominican Republic was that you know that you are making an impact in people’s lives, that the help that you give these people is making a difference. As an undergraduate on the pre-med track in the United States, it is close to impossible to be put in a position where you are working one-on-one with a patient due to strict regulations. Yet, in the DR, we were allowed to perform vitals and work closely with some of the most inspiring doctors I have ever met. Its crazy to think that a two-week trip validated all of my goals and aspirations but it really did!
How do these trips help accomplish the purpose of the Pre-Med Society?
Trips such as these offer students in the pre-med field an invaluable opportunity to become involved, meet UConn peers with similar interests and values, learn about health systems outside of the US, and work with experienced doctors.
What are your personal aspirations in the medical field?
Once I graduate from UConn, I plan on taking a year off and volunteering/traveling and then going to PA school (physicians assistant). I want to specialize in neurology as of now.
What have you been doing to plan for this year’s trip?
For planning, we have already been in contact with Guanin and set up our basic itinerary. We’ve also been working on getting the word out for applicants and setting up fundraisers to support the price of the trip.
What should people do if they want to be involved?
I took away so much from this alternative break that I am now a trip leader for the upcoming trip with 2 other UConn students. The next trip is planned for the beginning of January during winter break and applications are now being accepted until Sunday September 14 at midnight. You can find us at the involvement fair and we are holding an info session on Monday September 8 at 7pm in the library’s Class of 1947 room. We are accepting applications from all students who are interested in a career in the field of medicine, even if not a member of the pre-med society.
Interested in joining the next trip? Check out the meeting (mentioned above) and click here to apply! For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Pre-Med Society Blog to read about last year’s trip!