Purdue Timmies

Varsha Kumar, Team Leader

Varsha Kumar is from Cupertino, California, otherwise known as the place where all the smartphones came from.  She is a Junior majoring in Medical Laboratory Sciences at Purdue University and would like to ultimately become a physician.  Other than constantly advocating her love for both Timmy and global health, Varsha enjoys badminton, reading, and potatoes in any form!

Will Austin, Team Member

Nothing ignites Will’s mornings at 5:30AM like the sound of “The Circle of Life.”

Having grown up in Texas, Will currently spends his days freezing at Purdue University. Driven by his desire to read and learn about the phenomenal world of insects and biochemistry, and how these two fields coalesce, he is known to jump into his studies in the early hours of the day. His passion for enhancing the lives of patients around the globe motivates him to persevere. Outside of academics, Will bowls competitively for Purdue University, is captivated by macro-photography, and has an undying love for fruit snacks.

Yumin Gao, Team Member

“Nothing compares to the grandeur of a natural landscape.”

Yumin Gao was born and raised in Kunming, China – a land enriched with bio-ecological and racial diversity. Currently, he is a senior majoring in biomedical engineering at Purdue University, where he hopes to advance clinical medicine through technology innovations. Combined with his passion in medical anthropology and creative arts, he is determined to alleviate suffering for patients around the globe. In his spare time, Yumin enjoys trekking while photographing landscapes, as well as exploring contemporary arts that are instilled with passion, style, and various stories.

Olivia Mole, Team Member

Olivia grew up in the Chicagoland area, and is currently a sophomore at Purdue University studying Health Sciences with goals to become a physician’s assistant someday. Her background of mission trips and helping others has inspired her to travel as much as she can, helping others in places that need it most. Along with being a full time student, Olivia is quite involved in her campus orientation program, and can be found a variety of extracurricular activities. Aside from campus activities she also has a passion for music and spending her time consuming caffeinated drinks while catching up on world issues along with her social life.

Jeff Salay, Team Member

Jeff Salay is a sophomore studying Health and Human sciences at Purdue University, where he has learned about NGOs and his desire to help people grew. He was raised in the north side of Fort Wayne, Indiana between two hospitals aiding in his initial interest in medicine. He plans to go to either medical school or P.A. school while also getting a joint MPH degree.

Team Essay

We have the propensity to acknowledge the differences in others from the beginning; however, serving on a global health brigade forces us to seek out the underlying similarities in the midst of the earth-shattering differences.

Mouths agape, hearts searching, we wonder where we can find similarities in a drastically different world where dilapidated buildings and deteriorated signs line the streets, whispering of forgotten family dreams. A world in which medications are scarce and ambulances can take hours to reach a patient. A world in which a single hospital, with less than one hundred beds, stands to serve an entire population. A world in which we went to serve others, but by the end of the experience, found that we had also been served.

This service manifests itself within the patients—the people who trust us with their health. When we look back on our brigade to South Quito, Ecuador, we realize that being a scribe is not solely about record keeping—it is about the conversations with the patients during the appointment. We learn that a child has been silent about his broken arm, worried that his older brother will not have enough money for school. We realize healthcare is not solely about the medications prescribed or blood drawn—it is about being able to tell the patient that they will be safe and all right. We witness that motherly love transcends cultural differences when the doctor mentions the growth charts of her newborn are normal. We realize that language differences do not solely act as barriers—simply differences that facilitate alternative methods of communication. We experience that even in these discouraging circumstances, children want to be children; they want to play games, marvel at magic tricks, color pictures, learn from us, and teach us too. Through these vignettes that replay in our minds, we realize the underlying humanity that exists.

We realize we must take a step back from our own perspective of what we think medicine should be, and view life from the eyes of our global brothers and sisters. We then begin to understand that medicine is a global field, but is defined uniquely around the globe. Global health experiences reveal the cultural values and norms of the local population that are imbedded in medicine, thereby influencing the way in which healthcare is delivered.

When we arrive back in the States we are better able to understand our own definition of medicine, which differs from our sister countries. But what remains steadfast is fact that healthcare will always be about the patient. When we are able to perceive these differences in perspectives, notice the underlying similarities, and take into account these innate cultural and societal aspects, we are able to transform the delivery of healthcare.

To practice medicine in a contemporary setting is to serve others, near and far, while embracing the multicultural experience as a point of unison and healing amongst our brothers and sisters. We are able to serve others while simultaneously being served ourselves.