Honors College Students Share Summer Experiences

July 31, 2023
Summer Stories

Every summer, Honors College students set out to fling their green and gold afar.  For junior Elizabeth John, senior Lily Weir, and junior Devin Gann that looked like an elite internship and serving on mission in Kenya and Greece. These three students share a glimpse into what their summer held.

Elizabeth John, University Scholar

This summer I interned under the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Methodist Hospital Northeast, in San Antonio. The internship allowed me to gain a robust understanding of the administrative side of medicine and its intersections with the clinical side. I had the opportunity to witness how administration acts as the hospital's heart, providing culture, drive, and ability to all other departments and staff. I was also incredibly grateful to contribute to this wonderful hospital through a research project that aims to reduce blood culture contamination rates in the ER. Between blood culture observations of septicemic patients in the ER to weekly task force meetings, patient rounds, and data analysis, the clinical and leadership experience I was able to get here was unparalleled and unique.

As an aspiring physician, I did not realize the sheer impact that administration plays on a physician's practice until I stepped into this internship. As someone who is more scientifically minded, hospital administration seemed boring and stiff, but now I realize it is a physician's partner in providing holistic and world-class care. I've learned that without administration, practicing as a phyician is impossible, and to be a physician, you need to be engaged with administration. Administration enables physicians and makes medicine possible. Viewing and experiencing medicine from an administrative point of view has provided color for what my future career in medicine will be like as well as the opportunities that await me once I get there. 

Without the Honors College, I would never have realized what I am truly capable of. I've grown a fondness towards the liberal arts emphasis of the Honors College, for it balances the scientific rigor of pre-medicine and provides depth to my scientific studies. Opportunities that the Honors College has given me have made my pre-medicine education exceptional and have challenged me to improve in my weaknesses to become a better thinker, student, and learner. I wish that all pre-med students would balance their scientific studies with liberal arts. Both disciplines utilize separate styles of thinking, both disciplines are present in healthcare, and being proficient in both is useful for the rigor of medicine.

Lily Weir, Honors Program

After reading Norman Wirzba’s Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, I knew this summer I wanted to gain agricultural experience but also observe what healthcare in underserved populations looked like globally. When I learned that Straw to Bread’s partnership with those on the Nyagach plateau in Kenya had focuses on both fields, I knew I wanted to join and learn from Dr. Lisa Baker’s work.

As students, we assisted with the Bethlehem Home clinic where Straw to Bread providers (some of which were Baylor alumni) work alongside Kenyan physicians and the regular hospital staff. Our roles would shift daily, but mostly we recorded patient intakes, took vitals, and collected data for research. We also had the opportunity to take turns touring the agricultural developments that Bethlehem home elders had implemented on their farms, which help feed the community.

I learned how essential public and community health are for true healing. There were many cases in which physicians were unable to provide a simple medical intervention that would alleviate an illness (i.e., treatment for children who had headaches due to dehydration since their families do not have enough water for them to drink). From interactions like these, I learned how essential it is to have local partnerships when providing short-term medical service.

Saying that suffering was a highlight of my time in Kenya initially sounds concerning, but it was truly one of the most impactful things I have ever experienced. I was both humbled and honored to be welcomed into the suffering that many community members on the plateau experience daily. I had an even greater appreciation for these encounters because this semester in Dr. Jason Whitt’s class, Christian Spirituality and Healthcare, we studied suffering and how it affects the patient’s experience and life. One work we read emphasized that God has given believers communities which help to bear the weight of suffering. With this perspective, I felt the heaviness of death and great physical suffering that many of the Luo endure, but was in awe of how they endure suffering in community as everyone’s needs and illnesses are known by their neighbors, family members and friends. In fact, we learned that many community members refuse to receive new water tanks or other aid because they know someone in the community who is in greater need. Their humility greatly contrasts with the common American view of suffering as something to be avoided at all costs. The Luo way challenges me to engage in the suffering of those in my community.

Devin Gann, Honors Program

Although I have always felt a strong desire to do mission work, the Honors College mission trip to Greece interested me due to Athens and Corinth's historical and religious significance. Being able to walk in the footsteps of Paul and serve with the descendants of the first-century church was an opportunity that was hard to ignore.

My time in Greece radically changed how I view Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church and his witness to the Athenians in Acts 17. To stand upon Mars Hill and preach that your God died on the cross, rose again three days later, and doesn’t live in any man-made temple would have been intimidating and harrowing when the Parthenon is towering high on the Acropolis behind you, and the agora is teeming with sophists below you. Likewise, standing in the same spot in Corinth where the Jews took Paul to face the proconsul with the Temple of Aphrodite perched on top of the Acrocorinth with its thousands of temple prostitutes adds a whole new lens through which to view Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians on love and sexual immorality. By putting scripture into context and standing in the same spots it happened, my appreciation for the work of Paul and my awe towards the power of the Gospel was significantly increased.

Overall, the mission trip was incredible in all aspects, but the highlight for me was getting to experience it all with the rest of mission team. We went from a few awkward conversations on the first day to exploring the city, serving Ukrainian and Afghan refugees and homeless Greeks, throwing ourselves into scripture, and discussing Paul’s letters on a level I have never experienced. The laughs, memories, and late-night conversations will be something I will always cherish.

Moving forward, this trip has put into perspective the global nature of the Christian church. Throughout my time in Greece, I was struck by the idea that I could have such a close and intimate bond through Christ with people I could hardly communicate with due to the language barrier. This was most visible on our last day of serving with Axia 113. Our Greek hosts, who spoke no English, sang “How Great Thou Art” to us in Greek; in return, we, who spoke no Greek, sang it to them in English. Seeing the Gospel and love for Christ break down all the barriers encountered gave me a deeper appreciation for the power of Christ but also for the similarities we all share across cultures.