Caroline Kaschak participated in the program in 2016. She will graduate in May with a degree in BBH and Minors in Global Health and Kinesiology. Participating in the Exploring the Health Care System in Costa Rica program sparked a passion for Global Health and helping others. In Caroline’s words, this program “was the single most impactful experience that stands out in my college career.” Caroline has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will work as a rural health educator in Belize. After the Peace Corps Caroline hopes to attend medical school. (January, 2018)

Katie Smith participated in the program in January 2017. Katie is a Health Policy and Administrative Schreyers Honor student and will graduate in May 2018. Katie then plans to attend graduate school to study Mental and Behavioral Health Policy to receive her Masters in Public Health. In 2017 Katie won the 2017 Undergraduate Research exhibition with her research from Costa Rica. The topic of her research was Examining Primary Care Organizational Structure in Costa Rica: The EBIAS and  ATAP. Katie said her time in Costa Rica  helped improved her research skills as well as broaden her Global Health Perspective.

Amanda Reese participated in the program in January 2017. Amanda graduated in May 2017 with degrees in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Spanish. Amanda said the program “…reaffirmed my interest in the role of preventive and community health interventions within the health system. While these exist in the United States, it is not as common to see them integrated in the administration of medical care. I will soon be working in a small community in Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the health sector, and I can use what I learned in Costa Rica as a model for empowering healthy lifestyle choices in various community establishments.” She is currently serving as a Community Health volunteer in Peace Corps Paraguay and applying to medical school.

Emily Bippus participated in the program in January 2017. She graduated in May with a degree in Health Policy and Administration. Emily said that the programed helped her in many ways. In her words: “My academic and professional pursuits have been focused on health care policy and reform– studying in Costa Rica granted me the opportunity to discover a system that was providing great service to its people and at better outcomes than those experienced in the U.S. It taught me a lot about the different ways that healthcare can be administered and how we can learn from global health systems to implement reform in the United States.” Emily had an internship at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in Pittsburgh in summer 2017. She is now attending Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and will graduate in 2019 with a masters in Science in Health Care Policy and Management. She then plans to move to Washington DC to pursue a career as a health policy analyst.

Alexandra Tiano participated in the program in January 2017. She will graduate in May 2018 with a degree in Health Policy and Administration. She said the trip allowed her to gain vital experience that she can discuss in interviews and future jobs. Since the program Alexandra has had an internship at Allegheny General Hospital, became vice president of the ACHCA club, and has accepted a full-time position as a financial analyst following graduation.

Danika Hoffman participated in the program in January 2016.  She graduated in May 2016 with a degree in Health Policy and Administration. In Danika’s words: “The opportunity to study the Costa Rican healthcare system in-depth and become immersed in Costa Rican culture was an integral part of my undergraduate education. On this trip, I learned about systemic approaches to healthcare access, quality, and financing that are very different from the American system. This experience helped me decide to pursue work in healthcare access and quality, and to approach my work with the perspective I gained through the program.” She is now working in health insurance specifically Medicare.

Michelle Lai participated in the program in January 2017. She graduated in May 2017 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Health Policy and Administration. Michelle was very moved by her experience in Costa Rica. She said: “As a future physician, I think it’s important to see how health care systems work in other countries, especially ones like Costa Rica where they are doing better than us both in cost and outcomes. For people going into the healthcare field, observing how other systems are different can help us be part of the improvement of our own, rather than just accepting what’s already in place. On top of that, we can see how different cultures and beliefs can influence the way people view health and how the system is structured to serve the public.

I learned that Costa Rica’s universal free health care and community health workers have their benefits, like providing basic care to all and not incentivizing doctors. However, we also saw their drawbacks, like longer wait times and a higher financial burden on the government and taxpayers. Seeing these things with our own eyes made us critically examine the strengths and weaknesses in how our own system works in the US.

Having this experience has inspired me to continue to learn about other health care systems and to never stop questioning the status quo. I feel very lucky to have gone on this eye-opening trip through an HPA class with such a knowledgeable professor and amazing classmates!”

Michelle is now in medical school at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Rachel Fife participated in the program in January 2019. Rachel is majoring in Biobehavioral Health, and minoring in Psychology and Diversity and Inclusion. Rachel will graduate in May 2020. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant. Rachel will present her independent research on preventative care in Costa Rica at the Undergraduate Research Exhibition in April 2020. Rachel notes that her time in Costa Rica allowed her to see firsthand how healthcare is delivered in a third world country, and that it was a great cultural experience. Rachel said the program was an incredible opportunity, and has enhanced her research and communication skills which will help her in her future career as a healthcare provider.

Madison Stewart participated in the program in January 2019. Madison is a Nursing major with a minor in Psychology. Madison has earned a certificate in Nursing Forensics. Her future plans are to become a Nurse Coroner or a Forensics Nurse Investigator. Madison plans on graduating in May of 2021. Madison traveled to Costa Rica and was impressed with the wide availability of care, and easy access to healthcare for all citizens of Costa Rica. Madison says, “The program was an incredible opportunity and will greatly impact my future career goals.”

Meghan participated in the program in January 2019. Meghan is a Nursing major. She plans to become a Pediatric Nurse. Meghan will graduate in May 2021. Meghan notes that the trip was a wonderful experience and she says, “The students on the trip made it so memorable.” Meghan says that she was able to meet and create memories with people from other majors that she would have never known if it wasn’t for the trip. Meghan also expresses how the travel agents, Chino, Corolla, and Juan Pablo, were amazing leaders who went out of their way to create a great overall experience for everyone.

Darien participated in the program in January 2019. Darien is a Nursing major who plans to work as a new graduate nurse once she graduates in May 2020. Darien says, “I plan to go back to graduate school a year or two after graduation to become a Primary Pediatric Nurse.” Darien loved the trip to Costa Rica, and she expresses how she was able to learn of the different ways in which medicine can be practiced and viewed in different countries. Darien says, “The trip showed me how much value there is in understanding and experiencing other cultures and lifestyles.” Darien notes that by traveling to a third world country, “I will have a better ability to understand the backgrounds of my patients in my future career.”

Taylor participated in the program in January 2019. Taylor is a Nursing major with a Latino Studies minor. She is interested in working in a cardiac unit, and she hopes to become a travel nurse in the future. Taylor graduates in May 2021. On the trip, Taylor enjoyed being able to talk to the people of Costa Rica about how they feel about their healthcare. Taylor says, “So many people in Costa Rica opened up their homes to the students which was very special and humbling.” Taylor also says that the bond the student group made with the travel agents, Chino and Corolla, was very special.

Krista was part of the Costa Rica program in January 2019. She is a Biobehavioral Health major. Krista graduated in December 2019. She plans to attend PCOM Georgia’s Physician Assistant Program to earn her masters. Krista notes that the trip to Costa Rica was so beneficial to her future career as a healthcare provider. She says, “It was interesting to talk with various healthcare providers in Costa Rica, and to observe their differences in healthcare.” Krista will always remember this trip in allowing her to look at healthcare from a different perspective. 

Aasma was a Biology major with a Neuroscience focus. She graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree and a minor in Psychology. Aasma was a member of Shreyer’s Honors College and completed her thesis on converting glioblastoma cells to GABAergic neurons. She is currently a Post-baccalaureate IRTA Fellow at the National Institute of Neurobiological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in NIH, Bethesda, MD. Aasma notes that her most memorable thing about the Costa Rica trip was “working with the Caja and observing the different people they helped and how they impacted their lives.” She mentions, “The healthcare in Costa Rica treats people who are borderline homeless with the same care and dedication as rich American immigrants living in Costa Rica. Regardless of status, everyone receives the care they deserve.” Aasma expresses that her experience in Costa Rica really opened her up to understanding populations with different ways of life, and how a well-developed healthcare system can transform a country and its people’s quality of life. She discusses how the trip allowed her to focus on the effects of health disparity in the United States, by studying and comparing the mortality rates between the two countries.