by Carla Lia, School Operations Manager
Common Ground alumni are going places! Earlier this winter, I and other staff at Common Ground noticed pictures of two of our alumni, dressed in scrubs and giving medical exams to children and adults in the streets of the Dominica Republic. When I followed up to learn more, here’s what we found out…
Former Common Ground students Jenisha Khadka, CG Class of ’19 and Noor Fadhil, CG Class of ’20 spent their Winter Break abroad this year taking vitals and observing surgeries in the Dominican Republic. Jenisha currently attends Fairfield University on a medical Pre-Physicians Assistant track with a major in Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience and minor in Anthropology. Noor currently attends UCONN, also on a Pre-PA track with a major in Biology and minor in Arabic & Islamic Studies.
While at Common Ground, both Jenisha and Noor were active leaders in the CG community. When asked what opportunities they were most proud of, Jenisha said “Personally, establishing the SPEAK Club is something I’m very proud of because it really opened up a safe place for many people with different cultural/racial backgrounds to come together and express their culture and identity in their own ways without being questioned or judged.”
Noor echoed her feelings about being involved with the SPEAK Club with Mr.Rios, and credited it to helping her build her leadership skills that she hopes to continue to develop as she pursues a membership in the UConn Arabic Student Association. She added, “I am also proud of being a part of the internship with Mr. Tolman where we went to Oregon to talk about how Common Ground addresses sustainability through community and received the Best of Green Schools award. Lastly, to this day I’m still proud of working my first job ever in my life at Kids Unplugged, which is what made me want to practice medicine and go into Pediatrics.”
So, how did these two end up in the Dominican Republic together? Through a friend of a friend, Noor heard about a medical enhancement program called MedX. MedX is a one week medical experience tailored towards any student with an interest in healthcare. The program takes place in underserved countries, with a current focus on the Dominican Republic. Both Noor and Jenisha applied for the session in December 2022 and were accepted. Although MedX is open to any undergraduate student in the US, getting accepted isn’t highly competitive, but spots do fill up, according to Noor. The program runs multiple times a year.
Over the course of the week, their schedule was packed with lots of hands on service and learning accumulating to 58 hours of clinical/surgical shadowing and community service each. During workshops or instructional time, they got “exposure to many different medical experiences such as learning how to perform phlebotomy, suturing and how to take vitals,” said Noor. “We also had an excursion day where we went horse riding, visited the Monument To The Heroes of Restoration and ate at a local restaurant downtown,” added Jenisha.
The rest of their time was spent working directly with the general public, walking the streets taking vitals of people in the community, taking vitals in hospitals, and shadowing surgical rooms. One day they went to a boys’ orphanage and helped with medical exams there. Over several days they got the opportunity to shadow many different surgeries and medical procedures. Jenisha named a few of these “Carpal Tunnel Release, intestinal obstruction, gallbladder removal through laparoscopy,” as well as “a c-section and natural births,” Noor added.
This trip was full of valuable and unique experiences. Both Noor and Jenisha would recommend this program to any student pursuing a career in healthcare. Noor noted that this program allows for students to be able to experience opportunities that may not be as easily available to students within the United States. Jenisha echoed this as well as stating that the program “gives you good exposure of what it’s like to work in healthcare, especially in an under-developed country where resources are very limited. Working in healthcare is all about working in a team, so I think it’s important that one understands this aspect of medicine before getting themselves in the field.”
“It shows people if medicine is what they want to pursue, which for me, made me more positive and interested that having a medical degree is what I’d like to accomplish.” Noor concluded.