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Alumni Association Grant Helps Students Examine Health Care Issues in Guatemala

Posted June 24, 2011


While many students headed home for their summer vacation, 13 Western New England students went down to Central America to explore health care in rural Guatemala. This 12-day trip May 17-28 was the culmination of a semester-long Global Health and Technology course. Their mission was to examine different health issues facing different populations around the world and the technology that is being developed to solve them. Read the students’ blog.

The trip was partially funded by a grant from the Alumni Association grants program. The Alumni Association has awarded more than $164,000 in grants over the past five years.

Michael Rust, one of the two faculty members leading the trip, said the expedition was designed to explore the specific health care challenges that the people of Guatemala are facing. The biomedical engineering professor said one of the goals was for students to “use the information gathered during our trip to develop projects that can be worked on by our students in future iterations of the course.”

Electrical Engineering Professor Steven Northrup, who had the privilege of co-leading his third Guatemala trip with students, said that one goal of the excursion was for the students to “go outside our normal comfort zones to engage the people of Guatemala and learn from their experiences.” The students “stepped up in this area through the completion of oral interviews in Spanish with hospital staff and patients, as well as keeping a running dialogue with the local people we encountered,” he added.

The students, according to their blog, enjoyed “an incredible learning experience,” observing the differences in how hospitals operate in the United States and Guatemala, particularly the discrepancies in infrastructure and how patients pay for care.

Rust was especially “proud of the professionalism, positive attitude, and openness to learning that our students demonstrated while abroad.” One of Guatemala’s finest educational institutions, the University of San Carlos, signed a partnership agreement with Western New England. This arrangement will help facilitate the group’s health assessments and future research initiatives.

—This story was written by Office of Alumni Relations Intern Steven Bernstein ’12.


Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational institution founded in 1919. Located on an attractive 215-acre suburban campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England University serves 3,955 students, including 2,575 full-time undergraduate students. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are offered through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and School of Law.


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