A gripping study-abroad experience and revealing service-learning opportunity changed Melina Benson’s life, solidifying the biology major’s determination to succeed in her challenging pre-med program at Messiah College.
“I’m now clawing for a chance to compare what I know of surgery in the Third World with that in the United States,” said the 2006 Messiah College Presidential Scholarship recipient of her experience at a hospital in Chang Mai, Thailand. Unsanitary operating rooms, inadequate medical equipment, and poorly trained surgical assistants are just a few of the compromised conditions surgeons and patients must endure. “Anesthesia for surgery patients consisted of another syringe full of Xylocaine when the patient cried out,” said Melina. “It was overwhelmingly difficult for me to face the reality of subpar healthcare.”
Returning stateside, Melina volunteered at a Remote Area Medical clinic in rural Grundy, Virginia, through Messiah’s Agape Center (http://www.messiah.edu/external_programs/agape/). While performing vision tests on Appalachia’s uninsured population, she witnessed first-hand the degree and severity of unmet medical needs in the United States. “Some of these people had lined up at 10 p.m. the night before. Some never having received medical care in their lives. One woman had a total mouth extraction,” she said.
“I have always wanted to be a physician and work in underdeveloped areas, but my experiences in Thailand and Virginia gave me concrete reasons—memories I can turn to for inspiration to stay on the grueling track.”
Read about Melina’s academic achievements at Messiah College
As president of the Messiah College Medical Awareness Society (http://www.messiah.edu/org/) and recipient of several academic, merit and leadership awards, Melina lives up to Messiah’s rigorous standards of academic excellence. “The classes I have taken so far have challenged me to adopt the complex thinking style I would need as a physician,” claims Melina. “A prime example would be Dr. Roseann Sach’s Organic Chemistry class, generally known as the make-or-break course in the sciences. Dr. Sach’s commitment to excellence has encouraged me to raise my standards.”
Posted on May 15th, 2008