Archive for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

November 26

Just one week in Honduras changed her whole future

By Alessandra Forero

Chelsea Higgins works alongside fellow students at the children's "charla," she created in Honduras with the Global Medical Brigades.

Just a year ago sophomore, Chelsea Higgins, an anthropology major following a pre-medical track, came to Boston University not as an aspiring doctor but as a neuroscience major. But after spending a week in Honduras with the BU Global Medical Brigades, Chelsea’s entire perception about global medicine changed.

Working in Honduras alongside other students from BU, Chelsea held hands with the children she was helping and cared for women who’d never had a personal medical consultation. The goal of the trip was to offer medical assessments, dental screenings and free medication to both adults and children in the region who did not have access to healthcare.

It took just one semester at Boston University to prepare for her life-changing trip. Chelsea and a small group of BU students took the initiative to raise the funds needed through to travel to Honduras. Also before her trip, she designed a curriculum for a children’s “charla,” meaning “chat” in Spanish. Chelsea created this curriculum, which included skits, songs and dances, as a way to have a fun and educational conversation with children about everyday dental hygiene.

Through her time in Honduras Chelsea realized she wanted to study a major that incorporated cultural sensitivity and awareness into the medical world. Upon returning to BU, she switched her major to anthropology to help address some of the challenges she saw her clients facing.

One of the greatest challenges she observed while in Honduras, which was also one of her favorite learning experiences, “was understanding Honduran perspectives and ideals while trying to assist patients. Recognizing the patient’s point of view is equally as important as supplying the medication,” she said.

While Chelsea enjoyed learning about medicine and volunteering at the clinic, her favorite part of the trip was interacting with the Honduran people. “Because I speak Spanish, I was able to have long conversations with locals and learn so much about the challenges not just the patients, but their country is facing, such as illegal immigration or drug trafficking. I learned, without the slant of the media, what these people really see and how that affects their medical needs.”

While she was passionate and proud of her volunteer experience in Honduras, Chelsea shared her realization, “You can’t fix it all in four days, it’s a long process. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment over many years. That only pushed me more to want to pursue global medicine for my future.”

When asked to give her best advice to aspiring medical students, Chelsea said, “Do the pre-med track and major in something you enjoy, something you are passionate about.”

Boston University encourages pre-medical and pre-dental students to create their own undergraduate pathway, as they work toward their intended career, through whichever major they desire. Many BU students major in traditional programs, such as biology or biomedical engineering, while others branch out and explore majors as varied as international relations, psychology, or economics – all while still pursuing a medical degree.

This semester Chelsea is back at BU hoping to use her larger humanitarian perspective on medicine and love for working with people to keep pushing herself in global medicine.

For Chelsea, the choice to come to Boston and attend BU was the first step in breaking out of her comfort zone and experiencing new things through academics, her experience in Honduras, and the people she has met along the way.

“BU has pushed me outside my comfort zone like I never had expected it would. It was a combination of all these things that lead me to see a future in global medicine that would have seemed out of reach in the past. I’m encouraged by watching my peers break boundaries in their fields of interest, which continuously inspires me to do the same,” she said.



March 5

A Day in the Life of an Application Reader

By Stacey Milton

Stacey Milton, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions

Getting ready to read some apps! (yes, that sweatshirt is as cozy as it looks)

Although most of what we do here at BU Admissions is very collaborative, our staff must read through tens of thousands of applications before we are ready to embark on the committee work that results in the selection of our class. Most of this initial reading happens solo, often in the comfort of our own homes, away from the office. We call these “reading at home” days—I like to think of them as “pajama days” or “quality time with the cat” days. As we are about to transition away from this time spent at home, we thought you may like to see where, and how, the bulk of the application review happens! Warning—it’s not glamorous.

French press coffee

The application reader's breakfast of champions.

8:00 a.m.
Time to wake up! While many of my colleagues are up and at it well before eight, I like to get some extra zzz’s. Often this means reading well into the late evening, but I’ve always been a night owl. First thing: coffee—strong and from a French press—with just a dash of hazelnut. Today’s background music: the James Brown Pandora station.

10:00 a.m.
Break from reading to answer some emails, and have a little breakfast with the Today show on in the background. I like that my days at home allow for some Al Roker.

10:45 a.m.
Back to the grindstone, and my cat has made herself comfy next to me on the couch. I think Chloe enjoys my being home more than I do and many files are read with a nice, warm lapcat. Time to switch up the music, too; I’m listening to a lot of XM radio and discovering new music lately. Another perk of being home all day, and I’ve learned that many of the bands will be swinging through Boston, so my spring concert card is quickly filling up.

1:30 p.m.

Stacey's cat, Chloe.

Full disclosure: Chloe is an invaluable resource in the decision making process.

Time for lunch, and a change of scenery. I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so this means moving from the couch to the kitchen table. I’m about halfway through my goal for the day. We are often asked if we read every application – the twitch in my right eye is a pretty good indication of the answer to that question. We have a large staff, so we read our regional files initially, and then help out in areas where we receive a heavier volume. It’s a lot of work, but even in the depths of winter, it’s exciting to remember the goal we are all working toward – building the next great class of BU Terriers.

4:00 p.m.
I stashed some goodies from the office snack wall in my bag before leaving yesterday, so this next hour is sponsored by Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. We are already planning our travel for admitted student events this spring, so I just purchased my tickets for a trip to Dallas and Houston in April. I’ve never been to the Lone Star State, and I’m looking forward to new travels and some quality BBQ.

5:00 p.m.
Break time! I always slow down in the afternoon, and find that I am pretty easily distracted. Funny how some things don’t seem to change as you get older. Today is a laundry day – I know, fascinating – so it’s time to throw in a load of whites and clear the head a bit before reading some more.

7:00 p.m.
Dinner from my favorite Thai place and a little relaxation. Time to catch up on some DVRed shows – there’s nothing like The Walking Dead to calm your nerves after a long day. I made good progress in reading today – I generally average between 40 to 50 applications when I devote a whole day to reading.

10:00 p.m.
Time to double check my travel plans for tomorrow – I’m headed to Philadelphia for a program at one of my schools, so I’ll be hopping on the train in the early morning. Now for some last-minute packing and prepping, The Daily Show, and then it’s off to bed!