We have had a program in place since 2014 which allows college students to intern here at RAM headquarters. We call these humanitarian college students Volunterns. They play an important part in to the work we do on a day-to-day basis. Most, if not all, attend our clinics and help any way they can. This year’s interns have been great, and it only seemed right to give them an introduction to the people that care about Remote Area Medical’s mission.
We have people from all over the United States interning with us: New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The word “intern” means a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience. Well, this year’s Volunterns have gained quite a bit of experience in non-profit operations, and they are not paid. However, for many of them the knowledge they gain may be worth more than money. Many of them want to work in non-profit organizations when they graduate. There is also something to be said about interacting with people in our country who, while they may have jobs and insurance, are suffering. It’s a very eye-opening experience to meet people who would wait in their cars for two days to get their dental needs met, or to be able to see.
Paul “Poppy” Green hails from New York and is a Neuroscience major at Hamilton College. This is Poppy’s second summer as a Voluntern with RAM. He described last summer as a life changing experience, stating, “It is an addiction.” He says he wants to pursue a career in non-profit management because of his love to help others. “There is no greater reward than seeing a smile on the face of a patient with vision restored or dental pain alleviated.” His most heartfelt moment at RAM was at last year’s annual Wise, Virginia clinic. Poppy handed out numbers and felt a strong emotional connection with the patients. “You realize you are no different than the people you are serving.” His advice for anyone thinking about interning or volunteering in the future is to be prepared for a challenging experience. Every day brings new obstacles to furthering the mission. A fun fact about Poppy is that he was once in a male pageant in high-school.
Olivia Ainsworth attends Colby College and is from Dallas, Texas. She wants to get her Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health, eventually becoming an OB/GYN. Olivia became interested in RAM after spending a summer in South Africa learning about and doing public health research. She also works as a leader at her college in their Partners in Health Engage program. Her most rewarding moment as an intern was when she got to “run” the dental floor while one of our core volunteers took a lunch break. She stated, “It made me appreciate just how lucky RAM is to have such dedicated people who are willing to give up time, pay-checks, and energy, giving care to others.” If she were to speak with someone wanting to intern, Olivia would give three reasons that especially made RAM stand out. One, it is not always common in non-profit internships to be able to do behind-the-scenes work. Two, you directly interact with the people you’re helping. Lastly, you actually help run a clinic. She has many fun facts about herself, which made it very difficult to choose just one. She is terrified of grasshoppers. She once physically ran into Maya Rudolph. She also was deaf until she was 4 and has been to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.
Milly Brooks attends the University of Richmond, double majoring in Psychology (Neuroscience concentration) and Health Care Studies. She is originally from Hampton, Virginia and hopes to one day eradicate the “mental health” stigma. Milly has aspirations to get a Master’s in Public Health and eventually work at or open up a practice specifically dealing with child and adolescent psychiatry. She states, “No one should have to choose between paying for day-to-day needs and their mental health.” Her interest in RAM originated from an organization at her college entitled Global Health Living-Learning. They followed and researched RAM’s mission and operations. “The organization seemed almost surreal, making dentures, providing classes, doing dental surgeries—for free.” Milly wanted to see how it was possible for millions of dollars in clinic care to be given at no cost to the patient. If advising someone on interning, she would tell them to do it with an open mind. “Jump at any opportunities to do anything, because even something that can seem small, dull, or unimportant, helps.” Her most rewarding moment is working at the clinics and interacting with the patients. Something most people might not know about Milly is that she loves to dance and swim.
Varun Kavuru hails from Roanoke Virginia and recently graduated from the University of Virginia. He majored in Cognitive Science and hopes to one day be a practicing physician in public service. Varun also has an interest in studying and writing about bioethics. He became interested in RAM after volunteering at a clinic a few years ago, stating, “I loved the experience.” He saw the internship opportunity while researching possible positions for the summer, and he ran across the one here. Varun feels that if anyone is interested in finding out about the behind-the-scenes organization of clinics, or what goes into the planning of RAM expeditions, they should volunteer. His favorite moment as an intern was experiencing the “well-oiled machine” that is our dental area at a clinic. He got to work in sanitation and helped keep the vital dental instruments flowing through so the dentists would have the tools they needed to do their job. Varun enjoys gardening when he has free time.
India Olchefske is originally from Washington D.C. and attended the University of Chicago, graduating in June of 2015. She majored in Public Policy Studies with a concentration in Mental Health Policy and a Pre-Med concentration as well. Her life aspiration is to be of use to other human beings. She became interested in RAM due to our mission to prevent pain and alleviate suffering. India also has an interest in how to improve access to health care for rural populations. When asked what she would say to a person contemplating interning, she stated, “A warm and welcoming staff; mix of administrative and clinical work; affecting change.” Her favorite moments thus far at RAM have been working in Development, and she looks forward to attending a future clinic. India just so happens to be a professional ballet dancer, also.
Michael Bleyer is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is a rising senior at North Carolina State University, and this is his second summer interning for RAM. He majors in Biomedical Engineering and hopes to attend medical school upon graduation. Specifically, he would like to become a physician and eventually work for Doctors Without Borders or with some sort of disaster relief organization. He found out about RAM from his brother, who volunteered with us two years ago. His brother brought him to a clinic last summer. “I saw first-hand all the good RAM does and enjoyed being a part of it.” To Michael, the most rewarding part of being an intern is seeing how the work he does affects RAM and the people we help. “I have had a great time getting to know the other interns and staff, and I have greatly enjoyed participating in clinics.” An interesting moment in his time at RAM was waking up at 3:30 a.m. on the morning of a clinic and working until 7:00p.m., and then, after eating, having to go back to the clinic to work until after midnight due to an unforeseen issue. He then had to get right back up at 3:30 a.m. the next day, stating, “Receiving tons of praise from volunteers and thanks from all the patients made my lack of sleep totally worth it.” Michael has been to 11 different countries in his life and has been hang-gliding twice.
Raymond Rosenbloom comes to us from Belmont, Massachusetts and attends Boston University. He hopes to work for an organization one day that will improve access to health care for all people. He was interested in interning for RAM to gain first-hand knowledge and experience working in an organization that provides medical care to the underserved. Raymond has lived in Boston all of his life and was also interested in seeing what medical and economic issues people face in the south. He feels that interning would benefit someone due to the unique opportunity to obtain first-hand experience at clinics. His most meaningful moment was when he attended a clinic and had to wake up at 3 a.m. to help some of our development team interview patients. “It was there, I was reminded about why I want to go into the health care field and the importance of RAM’s work.”
Kasey Sumeriski is from our neck of the woods, Knoxville, Tennessee, and attends The University of Tennessee. She is a senior majoring in Medical Anthropology. She has aspirations to, “Medically and holistically serve the underserved and impoverished international communities, as well as, advocate for the health care inequalities in the United States and globally.” Kasey was attracted to RAM by our mission and by RAM President Stan Brock’s unique life story. She also was interested in working on the front lines with impoverished communities during clinics. Her advice for anyone thinking about interning is, “Be open-minded to the different experiences and people they will meet while working at RAM. Be ready for a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but it’s totally worth it when it’s time for clinics.” Kasey just recently joined the team, so she doesn’t really have any particular moments that stick out, but she is looking forward to attending a clinic. In her down time, Kasey enjoys working in her herb garden, and last summer she worked as a rafting guide in Colorado.
Personally, working with all of these soon-to-be professionals and witnessing how ahead of the curve they are at this point in their lives has amazed me. They have done so much vital research and work for us. Many of them helped us honor the military veterans of this country at our Salute to Service event earlier in the summer. Many of them have had ideas that have brought on some changes in the ways we try to reach out to patients, medical professionals, and donors. On behalf of all the staff at Remote Area Medical, we all appreciate how hard you all work to help us with our day-to-day mission, and we look forward to seeing how you all change people’s lives for the better.