The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Cynthia Peterson PhD '22 Shares Video about Global Health Work in Peru

Sep 5, 2019
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College of Nursing PhD candidate Cynthia Peterson discusses her experience as the longest active volunteer for MEDLIFE, a nonprofit organization that seeks to build a worldwide movement empowering the poor in their fight for equal access to healthcare, education and a safe home, in this inspirational video. 

MEDLIFE operates service learning trips in Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, and Tanzania, where volunteers engage directly with the MEDLIFE mission and help patients and families break the cycle of poverty. MEDLIFE works to bring basic health care services to poor communities via mobile clinics, preventative health education workshops, and patient follow-up care.

MEDLIFE chapters support the movement by raising awareness of global health and development issues, collecting donations and volunteering at home and abroad. The UMass Amherst MEDLIFE chapter is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) that welcomes new members, volunteers and service learning trip participants. 

Cynthia is an intensive care unit nurse, a nursing instructor, and a PhD candidate (2022). She has been involved in global health for eleven years, beginning with a MEDLIFE trip in her first year as a nursing student at the University of Vermont in 2008. In April, she traveled to Cusco, Peru on a MEDLIFE clinic trip. 

Cynthia describes in the video that the patients at the clinic wanted to forge a connection, and they invited her to visit their homes in the village. In particular, the story of Juan Jose, a boy who had a burn contracture on his neck and needed surgery, was very touching, as Cynthia talks about developing a close connection with his family.

Cynthia says of her MEDLIFE experience, "If I could give one message about the MEDLIFE movement, it would be that this experience is super eye-opening and it will change your entire perspective on how you live your life and the type of work that you might engage in later. For me, as a first-year nursing student doing a trip with MEDLIFE, it basically propelled me into this entire life of global health service work. I see that impact on new volunteers every time we have a clinic trip. It's going to impact you, the type of work that you do, and the people around you."

Cynthia hopes that her story will inspire others to participate in MEDLIFE service learning trips. 

For more information, contact the UMass MEDLIFE chapter or follow @umass_medlife  on Instagram to get connected to the chapter and join an upcoming global health service learning trip.  

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