• Niamh Mulrooney

How Haiti Helped to Prepare Me for Study Abroad

Name: Niamh Mulrooney

Major(s): Public Health Sciences and Pre-Medical Track

School(s): University of Massachusetts Amherst

Class Year: 2017

Expeditions: May 2014, January 2015, May 2015, January 2016

Please describe your role/involvement within YSI:

Within YourStory International, I hold the position of the University of Massachusetts Amherst chapter leader. Some of my responsibilities include holding information sessions for recruitment of advocates for our expeditions, leading weekly chapter meetings, and fostering an engaging presence on campus during the academic year. While in Haiti, I serve as a leader and advisor for the public health groups, and as an assistant for our medical clinics in Leogane.

How did Haiti prepare you for study abroad?

This past spring, I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa for five months. Though the stunning city is culturally rich, many socioeconomic and health injustices still persist throughout the country, even after the abolition of apartheid twenty years ago. My time in Haiti and training through YSI helped me interpret these inequalities through a lens in which I could assess historical and economic explanations for the existing public health issues. Going to Haiti has made me all around more adventurous and has pushed me to leave my comfort zone hundreds and hundreds of times, which was relevant to trying new foods, exploring new landscapes, and meeting new friends in South Africa!

What are some transferable skills that you have taken away from your adventures with YSI?

By far the biggest take-away from YourStory International has been progressing as an effective leader and group member, and thus, learning the beauty of teamwork. I have learned the power of active listening and asking questions in order to form effective solutions. In the context of Haiti, the local individuals we work with have the best ideas and understanding of the things the community needs, and it’s essential to answer to those with an open-mind and willingness to work as a team. By the end of an expedition, you become family with the other advocates without even realizing it. You overcome challenges together.

How has YSI positively benefited you [professionally]?

My time spent in Haiti and experience through YSI have given me an intriguing narrative that employers always probe more about if seen in my resume or in interviews. Employers are people too, and people are always interested to hear personal stories-- stories of the challenges in the hot Haitian summer sun, of the smiles of the people of Morel at our pop-up medical clinics, and more. The professional skills and qualifications I have developed over the years are innumerable, such as leadership, research and analytics, and adaptability. Working or volunteering for a global health non-profit that is tackling very real issues in a very unique way is a fantastic way to STAND OUT, be memorable, and to demonstrate passion for your field.

What is the thing you are most thankful for that you have been given by/through YSI?

I have learned lessons from every single person I have had the pleasure with working with through YSI. Everyone [I meet] has something to offer.


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