Hands-on Experience Changes Lives

Last year, Leigh Loving, a junior at the University of Kansas, was challenged to find a way to do something good for the world.

Loving attended CGI University, an extension of former President Bill Clinton's philanthropic foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative. The meeting at Washington University in St. Louis brought together 1,000 students leaders who are committed to take action on global challenges. She came back charged to make a difference.

With inspiration from the Clinton Global Initiative and guidance from the University Honors Program, Loving founded the Jayhawk Health Initiative (JHI), which gives experiential learning opportunities to students in pre-health programs while providing health care to those in need.

During the 2012-13 school year, Loving and other members of the organization raised funds and planned a week-long medical trip to Panama. They held donation drives for medical supplies and cash, and volunteers organized “Hoops for Health,” a basketball tournament in which teams of three competed for a $300 grand prize.

Thousands of dollars of financial support and supplies poured in from students and organizations ready to aid in the group’s efforts.

Twenty-five members of the JHI Medical Brigade left for Central America in May to provide medical care to an underdeveloped area of Panama. The students teamed with doctors to provide medical and dental care, medication, and health education.

The JHI trip allowed undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience even before they to go on to medical school or health profession programs.

This year, the Jayhawk Health Initiative and its medical brigade will continue in its mission of offering students experiential learning opportunities and to empower volunteers to facilitate sustainable solutions in under-resourced communities while fostering local cultures.

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