Life seems to have a way of taking unexpected turns. For one Quinnipiac University student, her class trip to Batey 50 in December 2012 sparked the passion and motivation to make a life-changing move.
Jessica Patel, Class of 2014, recently graduated with her degree in Biology/Pre Med and a minor in Psychology and Chemistry. While some recent graduates are looking for jobs in nearby metropolitan areas or immediately going on to graduate school, Patel is making a much bigger life change.
On August 10th, Patel will be moving to La Romana, Dominican Republic to spend a year teaching English to students at the Joe Hartman School. The majority of the students at the Joe Hartman School need to have a sponsored education due to a lack of funds. People, mostly Americans who visit on mission/service trips, are asked to sponsor a child’s education for a year (currently at $165 a year!). In addition to teaching English, Patel will be working with the school’s scholarship program by taking pictures of the students in order to update his/her academic sponsor. Patel will also help run the school’s Facebook page as well as send out monthly newsletters to keep followers and sponsors informed of the children’s status.
Patel has taken trips back to La Romana two times since her first visit in 2012, and with each trip, she says she becomes more fluent in Spanish. Patel has learned to hold conversations in both Spanish and Creole with the adults and children she has met during her trips. While every trip was unique, she says that her first visit as part of Quinnipiac University’s QU301 Global Studies course is what inspired her to make a change in her life.
“I was so taken aback by everything I saw and the people I met humbled me. They were infectiously happy and generous when they had the bare minimum. They always wanted to help you, when we were the ones who were there to help,” Patel said. “That environment was something that was refreshing to me and I wanted to surround myself in it.”
Patel says that she is currently applying to medical schools for Fall 2015 admittance, once she returns from La Romana. She truly embodies the phrase “Believe There Is Good In The World.”
“I couldn’t think of another way I’d want to spend my gap year than to serve them and see their smiling faces every day. I want to try to help wherever I can and teach whoever wants to learn. “
By: Ryan O’Grady