Alyssa Yang

Discovering Academic and Personal Passions at DU

Alyssa Yang

Written 2-4-2010

Community Involvement?

Clínica Tepeyac: During my freshman year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Clínica Tepeyac, a local clinic in North Denver that specializes in caring for the uninsured Hispanic population. It was a wonderful way to interact with Spanish-speaking patients and observe the obstacles they face in accessing the American healthcare system; my experiences there inspired my interest in public health and studying healthcare models.

Porter Adventist Hospital: I am currently working on the 5th floor medical / telemetry unit assisting nurses and CNA's; the best part of this position is being able to meet the patients and converse with them as they heal... I am always amazed by their stories! I have also worked at the Information Desk helping patients and visitors become acquainted with the hospital.

Experience at DU?

The University of Denver has given me incredible opportunities to become actively involved in campus organizations, engage the Denver community, and explore other cultures throughout the world. For example, as part of the Pioneer Leadership Program, a team of students and I have developed a Community Change Initiative designed to improve implementation of the district-wide wellness policy in Denver Public Schools and, ultimately, improve the health of DPS students. Through this project and the Pioneer Leadership Program, I have gained the practical experience of identifying community needs locally and addressing them through systemic change. At an international level, Project El Salvador was a tremendously empowering experience that allowed me to live in Central America for a month and become truly integrated into a community. This is an opportunity I never could have gained as merely a tourist or non-DU student. The University of Denver has provided me with opportunities to equip myself for the future and discover my academic and personal passions... what a wonderful experience it has been!

Study Abroad Plans?

At this point, I plan to study either in Quito, Ecuador, or Southern Spain. As a Spanish major, I have high hopes for the quarter abroad! I would love to take classes with Spanish-speaking students, become actively involved in a community organization during my time there, and perhaps even become truly fluent in the language.

Struggles (Or, rather, a funny incident)?

Although I certainly have not faced some of the economic and social struggles that other DU students have overcome, I do have one story of trial that - in retrospect - is somewhat humorous. During the medical mission to Mendoza, Argentina, a series of unfortunate events left me with a spiral tibial fracture and a hairline ankle fracture... ouch! While in Uruguay, an ER physician casted my leg, and I later had surgery in the States to insert a rod and several screws through the tibia. Though the break was rather painful, I am amazed by how much I learned from the experience: it gave me a first-hand understanding of how to navigate the Uruguayan healthcare system and opened my eyes to some of the problems patients may face when working within the context of Latin American healthcare systems. More broadly, too, I hope to draw on my personal experiences in order to empathize with patients later on as a healthcare provider.

Plans for the Future?

At this point, I hope to attend medical school following my graduation in June 2011 to become a general practitioner (family medicine) or emergency care physician who specializes in caring for the Hispanic population in Denver.