CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The ability to practice service above self was the motivating factor that encouraged a Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi current student and alumna to fly more than 2,000 miles to San Jose, Costa Rica where they lent a helping hand to three underdeveloped communities during an International Service Learning (ISL) Global Health Trip.
Current College of Science and Engineering student Allyson Sturgeon, and recent alumna Rachel Rambo were part of a group of 16 undergraduate students and medical school students from across the United States who went on the two-week ISL mission trip in June 2016. There, they gained valuable hands-on training such as taking vitals, suturing wounds, and giving injections.
The mission trip for the two Islander students was funded through a Rotary Club District 5930 International Scholarship. The duo heard about the travel opportunity and scholarship from fellow classmate, Kayla Stoll, who went on the same trip in 2015.
“Kayla’s PowerPoint presentation about her experience abroad was heartwarming and brought tears to my eyes,” said Rambo. “My mom is from the Philippines, so I know what it’s like to see people living in underdeveloped countries. I wanted to extend my help in any way that I could.”
The Islanders say that although they didn’t initially know what to expect from the opportunity, they believe it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of their lives.
“One of the most rewarding things was seeing how the simplest gesture meant the world to the people in the communities we visited,” said Sturgeon. “Also, the other people who went on the trip with us inspired us to push ourselves to our full potential during this time of service.”
The student volunteers visited three communities in the San Jose, Costa Rica area. At each community, they performed various home visits, organized clinical rounds and participated in recreational activities. At the clinic, the young volunteers – under the direct supervision of local, licensed health professionals – helped with patient interviews, taking vital signs, performing basic triage and filling prescriptions. The student volunteers also had the opportunity to observe the examination, diagnosis and treatment process.
“During our trip, we had to put all our fears aside and operate out of our comfort zone,” said Sturgeon. “It was more fun and rewarding than anything else I’ve ever done before.”
In the future, Rambo plans to pursue a career that allows her to travel and provide patient care to those in underdeveloped countries. Sturgeon has an interest in working with children and hopes to one day become a surgical physician’s assistant. Both Islanders plan to attend more mission trips similar to the ISL Global Health Trip in the future.
Rambo received her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences in spring 2016, while Sturgeon will receive her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences in fall 2017.
To learn more about the Rotary Club International Scholarship to Costa Rica, visit http://www.rotary5930.org/Page/international-scholarship-to-costa-rica.