Maria Ruiz is a student at the Washington University in St. Louis where she is the Medical Brigade Leader in her Global Brigades chapter. Read on to find out more about Maria, why she's attending MCC2014, and how you can join the movement.
In January 2014, Washington University in St. Louis' Global Brigades sent a group of students and health professionals to Honduras, Maria's country of origin. Their brigade's clinic was groundbreaking; not because they made a new scientific discovery, but also because this was the first time the people of Apalí los Cuasimos had access to medical and dental care within their own community. During their stay, 736 patients from 6 surrounding villages received medical and dental care. As they prepare to go back to Honduras in January 2014, they hope to learn more and build stronger relationships with the community in order to maximize the impact of future public health projects. Maria came back from Honduras excited to declare her major, Global Health and Environment. Although it was a great experience, Maria also came back with conflicting emotions and a plethora of frustrations about poverty and inequality. She hopes that students learn to channel those frustrations so that they are not paralyzing, but instead, become fuel that harnesses positive change. For the trip that she will be leading, Maria developed a list of goals: first work towards making sustainable projects and empowering through collaborative, community based solutions in which locals are also agents of change, learn to recognize the importance of education, contextual appropriateness, women's empowerment, and global health work in general.
On why she will be attending MCC2014: "In the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, the author, Tracy Kidder, describes Paul Farmer as a compass, “with one leg swinging around the globe and the other planted in Haiti.” Upon reading this, I felt like a Farmer-esque compass. I often feel as if I have one leg swinging around the globe, and the other deeply planted in Honduras where I long to see advancements that will defeat poverty.
I would like to attend MCC2014 because I am curious to learn more about how to address topics of public health, eradication of poverty, and advancement of human rights. I am eager to learn as this is an area to which I feel the strongest of my passions. Initially, this started with a desire to help my native land, Honduras, but as I expand my studies in this areas, this has expanded to a desire for continual global efforts to ameliorate suffering.
The guest speakers at MCC2014 are among some of my role models. I recognize that I should not imitate them because their work is not meant to be a replicable model for HOW things need to be done everywhere; however, as Tracy Kidder, I do believe that because of their positive results, their work is a model of WHAT should be done. I will look into their life stories and their work for guidance to prepare for my own journey in global health. However, I also want to use what I learn in my local communities to promote a safe and inclusive environment where members of the campus community can engage in dialogues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, identity, and disparity. I would connect with professionals and with students from other institutions who may have similar interests and visions. In a collaborative effort, we could put our ideas and efforts towards a project of more sustainable impact. Ultimately however, I want to come to feel reenergized, and use my passions to raise awareness and take action so that, together, we can advance the current and future Millennium Development Goals."
Maria, as well as many other student leaders from across the globe, will be joining us this October 10-12th, 2014 at the 6th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. There, they and other students will be exchanging ideas and talking about how to achieve the UN Millennium Goals. in addition, everyone will be able to attend keynote speeches by influential global leaders such as Nicholas Kristof, Dr. Paul Farmer, among others. Apply now!