Students on Missions

by Charlene Klingen, Volunteer Gift of Life, Rotary District 7490

Introducing Ms. Christine Lannon. She is 23 years old and originally from central Illinois. She is literally a farmer’s daughter and the youngest of three.  She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. The day after graduation, Christine packed up and took a big step by moving to Texas.  She had done her research of medical school options and realized that if she lived in Texas 12 months prior to applying to Texas medical schools, she could apply as a resident and the cost would be reduced significantly. Why Texas I asked her. . . “I don’t like cold winters and prefer warm weather. I like the south.”  So, off to Texas she went, got a job and established her state residency. She is currently working as a patient care technician in a dialysis center.  She likes her job because it is one of the only options she found in the medical field where she could have hands-on direct patient care without any certifications.

In her zeal to learn more about the medical realm, she decided to go on a medical mission.  She searched the internet for “surgical medical missions” and the GOL Philippine medical mission popped up. She was thrilled when she was accepted for the trip. Christine has spunk, determination and a deep passion to be a doctor and to help others. Although she originally felt like an “outsider”, once the travel began she quickly assimilated in with the rest of the team and soon felt she was exactly where she belonged.

When asked about her experience on this mission, “I’m addicted, I love it.” Her adrenaline levels are high every day being able to work directly with patients from admission right through to observing inside the operating room. This mission has likely been a pivotal point in her medical career journey. Even though at this point in time she doesn’t know specifically where her passion for medicine will bring her, she has certainly developed much more interest in cardiac surgery this past week.

Some of the take-a-ways for Christine from this medical mission trip were:

  • never take for granted the privileges of living in America with all our comforts;
  • a sincere appreciation for the doctors and other medical staff in taking the time to teach and mentor her this week;
  • she is much more excited to start medical school to see her dreams become a reality; and

the first thing she wants to do when she gets home is to go to the library and take out all the books she can having to do with cardiology. “I want to be a doctor!”