Detroit vs Everybody

Courtney Schmidt, Team Leader

Courtney is a small-town girl from Michigan who loves farms, lakes, and apple cider. She received her undergraduate degree from Hope College where she played soccer and fell in love with international travel. During her undergraduate career, Courtney shadowed in the maternity ward of a hospital in Ghana and later helped run medical clinics for victims of human trafficking in Thailand, which were powerful experiences to further solidify her passion for global health. At Wayne State University School of Medicine, Courtney continued to develop this passion by joining the World Health Student Organization, traveling to Ecuador to provide medical care. In her free time limited by her second year of medical school, Courtney enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors, and athletic activities of any sort.

Michael Hofman, Team Member

Mike grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As one of five brothers, he learned to eat quickly and always have a witty retort in his back pocket. A couple minor surgeries, thirteen broken bones, and a few years later, he developed an interest in medicine. He attended Calvin College for his undergraduate education. During his time there, he traveled to China and Honduras, gaining an appreciation for both the importance of a global community and what it is like to be the only person standing 6 feet 4 inches tall in an entire city. He currently is a second year medical student at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. When he is not stuck in the books, he daydreams about his next chance to travel and pretends he is still in shape enough to play sports.

Nate Ziegler, Team Member

Nate is a second year medical student at Wayne State University in the heart of Midtown Detroit. Growing up 30 minutes west of Chicago, he developed a passion for all things sports, despite his frequent inability to master all of the necessary skills. He moved to Grand Rapids, MI to complete his undergrad education in Kinesiology at Calvin College with the intent of eventually becoming a physician, and moved out to Detroit to start medical school the following fall. Medicine has always been an intended career target, but he does his best to resist the nearly mandatory sedentary lifestyle required of a medical student to run, play basketball or volleyball, or rock climb as often as possible. If given a week of unadulterated free time, you will almost certainly find him trying some brand new hobby like tennis or fly fishing, failing miserably, and having a heck of a time doing it.

Aimee Vos, Team Member

Aimee is currently a second year medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. She got her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Despite having lived in the mitten state for the past 6 years, she still claims the Chicago area as her home. Home is where she grew her love for dancing, excitement for Cubs baseball, passion for medicine, and most importantly, where her golden retriever lives.

Team Essay

Vulnerable Resilience

If there is one thing that a global health experience can teach, it is that foundational needs of humans are not limited to select political, cultural, or racial communities. Whether a small child in Honduras, a boy in urban China, or a new mother in Ghana, all people are multi-faceted, and at times, the well-being of each of these facets—whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual—will depend on another person. Providing for this need requires vulnerability and resilience, but can reach across borders, both literal and figurative, to abolish alienation and isolation.

Failing health develops vulnerability. It does not matter your background or personal beliefs. This context predisposes interactions between patients and health care professionals. A need to trust another human with your well being, both physical and emotional, is universal. In a health clinic in small town Honduras, I was tasked with delivering sobering news to a mother. Her four-year-old son had been a victim of sexual violence. The fear, concern, and love in that mother’s eyes was overwhelming. That feeling of hopelessness is not isolated to impoverished areas of developing nations. It permeates every horrific, tragic diagnosis. I have seen tremendous suffering and resiliency within our borders and beyond. Vulnerability can become anyone’s reality, and it is a special privilege to aid our patients as they endure it.

The first birth I witnessed was a baby born in the Ghanaian heat, during a thunderstorm that made the electricity flicker. Unperturbed by the lack of power or the many mothers laboring within an arm’s reach, this newborn’s mother exuded a tired strength that had carried her through labor. Across the oceans, I helped develop that same smile of resilience in young girls at risk for human trafficking in Thailand by teaching them CPR, empowering them to take control in emergencies. Returning home, I met a young mother in Detroit who was determined to do anything to improve the health of her children. It was a privilege to teach her healthier food options for a low-income budget. These individuals have taught me that although our individual challenges may vary, human resilience is the same around the world. As future physicians, empowering our patients to develop this resilience is vital to help them achieve the best health possible.

In China, I took a course in traditional Chinese medicine. While the central theories and therapeutic strategies taught during lecture were entirely foreign to me, it only took the first 15 minutes in the hospital we were visiting to realize the value of having a trusted confidant with which you are comfortable entrusting your entire well-being. I watched a young boy in debilitating pain transition from fearful tears to smiles and laughter in the presence of a physician he knew. Plunging into a relationship with this depth and acuity is absent in nearly every other profession. The need for a compassionate physician is not lost in translation, and persists whether the treatment modality includes chemotherapy, herbal remedies, surgery, or acupuncture.