TEAM: International Cola Crew

Our Team

Emily Tibbits
Team Captain

Ohio born and raised, Emily Tibbits graduated with honors from the University of Cincinnati in 2009 and then from Wright State University Medical School in 2013. She has studied multiple languages during her collegiate years and has been an avid traveler, most recently spending time in Africa trekking Kilimanjaro and then rotating through African community hospitals. She is currently making her way to Base Camp One in Nepal. She completed the Reserve Officer Training Corps during college, and is now an active duty Captain in the United States Air Force. She will be completing her first year of general surgery residency at the University of California, Davis this upcoming June.

Monica Grova
Team Member

Monica Grova grew up in Santa Cruz, California, the daughter of two artists. In addition to her artist endeavors, she was also an athlete, devoted first to basketball then the Varsity rowing team at UCLA. Her interest in human psychology and teaching led her into the pre-medical field and she graduated with a degree in neuroscience. Monica was detoured briefly by Teach for America and spent two years as a science teacher at an underserved high school in the Bronx. UCSF medical school was her next destination. She spent the summer at a South African trauma center and had her first exposure to true health disparities. Through medical school and into her surgical residency at UC Davis she has taken every opportunity to engage in Global Health issues and plans to make it part of her future career.

Katie Iverson
Team Member

Katie Iverson grew up in a soup kitchen in Mesa, Arizona. When she was 2 years old, her mother started Paz de Cristo to serve their local community. This experience truly shaped her future ambitions. At Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, she designed her own major, Peace and Justice Studies, to further explore social justice. While spending a summer in Kenya as an intern with the International Medical Corps, she solidified her dedication to the fields of medicine and public health on a global level. As a Watson Fellow, Katie spent a year following the life of Mother Teresa throughout nine different countries to better understand what it means to truly live a life of service. After completing medical school at Oregon Health and Science University, she is ecstatic to be a part of the General Surgery program at UC Davis and grateful for this opportunity to further pursue global health.

Team Essay

Our individual stories from around the world have brought us together to pursue a common goal.

Emily, Tanzania 2013: There was almost nothing in the Maasai village that was familiar. No electricity in the rural clinic, no cell reception, bathing with water in buckets carried home from the river on our heads. Despite learning Swahili, communication was difficult. The Maasai people, with their branded faces and bodies draped in blankets, were incredibly welcoming, but only two spoke English, and a handful more spoke Swahili. There was one word that we could always get across though: Coca Cola. It was our treat after a long day in the overheated clinic – relaxing in the tiny bar in the middle of the village with a couple of warm Coca Colas (there was no electricity for a cooler). Even in the most distant, unfamiliar place there was something that connected us across the barriers of language and culture.

Katie, India 2008: As my eyes searched the bustling train station in Kolkata, India for my correct platform, a familiar gaze met mine. Covered in dirt, with a bandage still on her head, it was unmistakably her. This woman, who just a week ago I had cared for in Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying, or Kalighat, was now back at the station, begging for enough rupees to eat. At Kalighat, we had treated her wounds and she had healed. However, the bandages we applied were only a temporary fix for the life-threatening conditions created by her life of poverty. Seeing this woman suffer, both inside Mother Teresa’s home and again outside at the station, I understood it was necessary not only to treat her wounds, but also to treat the underlying circumstances.

Monica, South Africa 2009: After six weeks at Bedford hospital I am still seeing things that shock me everyday: the scale of disease, the sheer number of people needing treatment, the poor resources, the intermittent electricity. But today, it was a discussion between physicians. There are doctors here from Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Italy, Cuba, India, and of course, South Africa. Instead of being overwhelmed by the innumerable immediate problems at the hospital, they focused on long-term, sustainable solutions. They each understood the issues at hand. They were speaking with intelligence and thought. But most importantly they were listening to each other. It felt like a place where real change could happen.

Collectively, we have traversed the globe learning firsthand about challenging healthcare issues. As Emily discovered in Tanzania, no matter how unfamiliar, there is a way to find common ground. While Katie was following Mother Teresa, she found that the greatest insights can arise in the most unexpected places. Monica realized that only by truly listening to each other, can we start to develop solutions. With Timmy Global Health, we will use these experiences to integrate into the community, help identify the problems, and work to develop sustainable solutions that address not only the outcome, but also the cause.