Global Health Needs to Provide Mental Care to Marginalized Population

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Thirty years ago, my parents escaped war-torn Lebanon as refugees. Having lived most of my life in California, the annual trips to Lebanon had a profound impact on me. In 2013, I traveled to Lebanon, this time as a graduate student researcher, to conduct a study on mental health that I hoped would help to improve the quality of life of those living in the Shatila refugee camp. During my study, I met 18-year-old refugee with symptoms and signs of depression. The experience brought home to me one of the most disheartening aspects of global medicine: the neglect of mental health. While my desire to become a physician can be traced, years back to where I was brought face to face with poverty and suffering, my recent trip opened my eyes to …show more content…

My experiences are the source of my maturity and inspiration to empower those facing adversity.

My love for medical science began at the University of California, Berkeley. Majoring in Integrative Biology, I supplemented my education with a research project alongside Dr. Tyrone Hayes. We used an amphibian model to link pesticide exposure to reproductive abnormalities in migrant farm workers. Collecting field samples gave me the opportunity to form relationships with families near the Salinas River. In conferences and town-hall meetings, I gave presentations about the harmful health effects of pesticides in drinking water. Putting to use my scientific findings to empower the community, I realized the importance that social and environmental factors play in shaping health outcomes. I completed my honor’s thesis and co-authored a publication helping to ban the use of the pesticide in the US. Through translational research I uncovered a passion for human health.

After graduating, I volunteered at the mobile pediatric free clinic, Kerry’s Kids, providing primary health care services to underserved children and their families in the San Francisco Bay Area. I took on one of the most satisfying roles of my life as the program coordinator, running clinics in seven shelters. I worked closely with pediatricians and nurses, who devoted their weeknights to providing medical care, and I was deeply moved by their dedication and compassion. The patients that came to the

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