By Katelyn Gendron
EAST LONGMEADOW – Kimberlyn Austin is far from the stereotypical party all night, sleep all day, and go to class in her pajamas with last night’s makeup kind of college student.
As a sophomore, pre-med major at Boston College, this East Longmeadow resident already has her sights on a career as a physician’s assistant. She’s even begun accruing patient care hours as a certified EMT-Basic and is also member of the Global Medical Brigades of Boston College, which will be traveling to Panama on a service mission in May.
“The area [of Panama] that we’re going to only receives medical treatment every three to six months. Our focus is to bring a lot of primary care and vaccinations. We [in the U.S.] take for granted our primary and wellness checkups. They have conditions that have been festering for months,” Austin explained of what her brigade is expecting in Central America.
“I’m really hoping to get an understanding of public health. How healthcare systems are run in Panama and learn about how people can provide basic needs,” she added, noting that this will be her first time outside of the United States.
Austin, as well as each of the 30 members of her brigade, is responsible for raising $1,600 to cover airfare, room and board as well as all supplies for patients, including gloves, gauze, antibiotic ointments, vaccinations and other First Aid needs. In total, the group must raise $54,000 by mid-April, which is why Austin has teamed up Let’s Yo Yogurt for a fundraiser on March 1. The eatery has agreed to donate 10 percent of that day’s sales to Austin.
Global Medical Brigades, she explained, “is part of the world’s largest student-led health and sustainable development organization called Global Brigades. Each year, Global Brigades mobilizes thousands of university students around the world to participate in nine different skills-based programs to improve the quality of life in under-resourced communities.”
She admitted that it’s a challenge to juggle her course load, her work as an EMT and the various fundraisers she’s managing for her brigade but it’s worth it in order to help families in need.
“When I came in as a freshman I had no idea the kind of dedication that it [my major] would take. It’s a different mindset than the other college students. It’s a rigorous curriculum,” Austin said.
Those who cannot make the March 1 fundraiser are encouraged to send monetary donations to Austin at 2 Lantern Lane, East Longmeadow, MA 01028.
Additional information about Global Brigades may be obtained by visiting its website, www.globalbrigades.org