“The most important thing I learned while on both these trips is that if you want to make a change, you can’t just wipe away or ignore the communities and cultures already existent in a place when you arrive. I also learned that simply because something is not what much of western civilization is accustomed to does not make it wrong.”
Name: Oona Moorhead
Life-Changing Experience: Peru: Foundations Of Global Health™ (2019), Haiti: Global Health Initiative (2018)
Grade: High school senior
Hometown: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
How She’s Making Change: Continuing her volunteer work with her local EMS
Words to Live By: “Whatever you are, be a good one” –Abraham Lincoln
Technically, she’s hasn’t saved any lives…yet! However, GLA alumna Oona is well on her way to making a difference through her work in the medical field. As an EMS (emergency medical services) Explorer youth volunteer, she is involved in a variety of tasks. Assisting with paperwork at the EMS headquarters, and learning basic skills are all part of a typical day as an EMS volunteer; however, riding along on emergency calls is Oona’s favorite part. “I get to learn while doing something good for others,” she says. “This is one of my favorite things as it is never the same call twice.”
She is also currently the President of her local Explorer Post, which is the subset of the EMS corps specifically for teenage volunteers. In addition to running monthly meetings, managing social media, and approving fundraising, Oona acts as a liaison between the youth and adult divisions and works heavily with community outreach.
Her involvement doesn’t stop there: Oona is planning for the future and incorporating her passion for the medical field into her high school coursework. Her school offers a program that awards college credit for classes that are centered on understanding the healthcare system. She receives dual enrollment credit for most of these classes, and is able to get real-world experience through observing on rotation in a local hospital twice per week.
Oona credits her GLA experience in Haiti with igniting her passion for healthcare. “I came back excited about the future and especially this field,” she said. I found out beginning of my junior year soon after arriving home from Haiti that I could apply for a senior year program they allowed me to focus solely on healthcare and medicine. I would say Haiti is one of the main reasons I’m in this program currently, where I get to work on premed studies.”
After returning from Haiti, Oona wanted to stay involved in heathcare in her own community. When she and her friend spotted a signup sheet for EMS Explorers, she decided to see what it was all about. At the first meeting she attended “we did a check of the corps rigs and went over basic safety skills and I was hooked,” she says. “I started a year ago this month and I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
The following year, Oona decided to further her knowledge with a second GLA program in Peru, where students lend a hand in an area in which poor infrastructure and lack of education pertaining to good hygiene are major factors contributing to health issues in the Andes. Here, she learn from community health workers operating traveling clinics and helped to improve basic health for the community through construction projects. As an added bonus, two of her co-volunteers from her Haiti program were also in attendance.
“Peru allowed me to simply discover more of why I love healthcare, medicine and helping people. The most important thing I learned while on both these trips though is that if you want to make a change you can’t wipe away or ignore the communities and cultures already existent in a place when you arrive. I also learned that simply because something is not what much of western civilization is accustomed to does not mean it’s wrong.”
Oona plans to take her interest in medicine to the next level. She has applied to colleges and plans to major in Public Health and minor in French. The end goal? To one day work as a nurse practitioner of pediatrics, or in emergency medicine and epidemiology.
Interested in public heath and medicine? Check out our program offerings here!