Elizabeth Francis

Class of 2008
Pre-Medicine and Spanish
Schreyer Honors Scholar
Nominated by Jessica Erickson

It’s a sad reality that not all people of the world enjoy the same access to health care that many of us enjoy. And the causes are complex, for even when there are free clinics, such as the free orthopedic surgery clinic in San Pedro Sula, many Honduran families cannot take advantage of it for the heart-breaking reason that they simply cannot afford the travel expenses to get to and from the clinic. Penn State student Liz Francis thought problems like this should have solutions, and she found a way to provide them.

Liz initiated a Penn State Chapter of the Global Medical Relief Program, or GlobeMed, directing Penn State’s part in this national organization of university students determined to address iniquities in global health care. GlobeMed connects students with world-wide grassroots organizations to design, implement, and support the kinds of projects that transform lives and communities. Under Liz’s direction, Penn State GlobeMed developed Project Honduras, to help Honduran families access this free clinic, simply by funding their travel to and from the clinic.

Liz’s passion for addressing the inequalities in global health access has taken her into the field. Last summer she organized and led a team of Penn State students on a trip to Honduras. Liz and her fellow students visited clinics and schools, shadowed physicians, and observed the dire lack of resources as well as developing a better understanding of the cultural beliefs the Honduran people have about medicine. In order to better prepare future students for field work in Project Honduras, Liz researched and designed an independent study on Honduran culture.

Liz also organized Penn State’s first annual Global Health Conference, an inaugural attempt to involve concerned students and professionals from all fields–including business, geography, and women’s studies–to address iniquity in global health care. The conference’s title, “Our Generation’s Role in Global Health,” attests to Liz’s personal, ethical investment in this issue, as well as her work to provide ethical action opportunities for others. For her initiative, concern for others, and her vision for ethical action across disciplines, Liz Francis truly defines what it means to be an ethical leader.


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