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Skaneateles graduate hoping to help medically underserved people

Cornell student Emily Devins seeks volunteer job in South Africa

Skaneateles High School graduate Emily Devins, now a student at Cornell University, hopes to travel to Cape Town, South Africa to serve as a medical volunteer.

Skaneateles High School graduate Emily Devins, now a student at Cornell University, hopes to travel to Cape Town, South Africa to serve as a medical volunteer.

— When she was student-athlete at Skaneateles High School playing soccer, ice hockey and softball, Emily Devins, class of 2009, sustained her share of sports injuries. But these injuries — and more specifically the medical care and physical therapy she underwent as a result — actually influenced the course of her life.

The experience of going through medical treatment and physical therapy made her realize that what she wanted to do with her life was to help others as she was helped.

“I’ve known for a long time that I want to go into the medical field,” said Devins, who currently is a junior at Cornell University and majoring in biology, health and society. “And, coming from a place that’s privileged with easily available medical care, I’m very interested in helping in medically underserved areas.”

Devins currently is looking to attend a post-graduate physicians’ assistant program when she finishes her bachelor’s degree. Such post-graduate medical programs, however, typically require 1,000 hours of clinical experience merely to allow a person to apply.

This requirement, plus her desire to help people, plus her interest in travelling abroad, led Devins to apply last fall to the Child Family Health International organization’s “Healthcare Challenges Program,” which takes place in Cape Town, South Africa.

The four-week volunteer program gives pre-medical students the opportunity to rotate in a variety of community clinics associated with the Eerste River Hospital in the Cape Flats, where they will follow patients through their treatments and learn from the medical staff and public health associates at the hospital.

Child Family Health International is the leading nongovernmental organization placing health science students on global health education programs in ways that are socially responsible and financially just, according to its website.

“My biggest hope in doing this program is to gain an appreciation to live and serve in a medically underserved community, as well as gaining a new appreciation for a different culture,” Devins said. “I’ve always wanted to go to South Africa, and not only do I find the place interesting, but the program as well.”

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