Name: Cole Martens
School: UMass Amherst
Major(s): Biology (pre-med) spanish minor
Class year: 2017
When and how did you get involved with YSI?
I got involved in YSI during the fall semester of 2015 when my friend Frank Schulze, a former officer for YSI, told me what an incredible opportunity it was to go to Haiti, as I was looking for experience working in a clinical setting before applying to medical school.
Which expeditions have you gone on?
I have only gone on one expedition, one of the Winter break sessions in January of 2016.
What are your future plans with us?
I would love to go on at least one, if not more trips with YSI in the future. I originally was a part of the medical service group but would love to be a photographer for the organization to document the work of the clinic and the village of Pont Morel.
What is your favorite memory from your trip(s) to Haiti?
I think my favorite memory of going to Haiti was taking pictures of the villagers and showing them their pictures. Specifically, on the first day of interviewing the villagers about their health, there was a pair of two little girls that were watching us and I asked to take their picture. One of the girls was being shy and slightly hiding behind her friend. I showed them their picture afterward and they were really curious and very happy to see it. That picture ended up being my favorite picture I took on the trip, one of over 900 pictures that I ended up editing.
What would you say to somebody who is unsure whether or not YSI is right for them? Whether it means donating, traveling with us, or simply reading more about us.
For me, YSI was a life-changing experience. As I mentioned, I am looking to go into the medical field and from what I have seen and learned from the doctors, nurses, and other volunteers has only given me more passion to pursue a career in medicine. Besides that, this was my first time outside of the united states and it was a very humbling experience, giving me an appreciation for what I do have back home and wanting more than ever before to do something to help those who don’t have medical care and other basic necessities. If going on a service trip is not right for someone, look into donating or even simply sharing our story and our work. These volunteers are doing incredible work and I am so lucky to have been able to work so closely with them and learn so much from them.
What is your biggest take away from the experiences that you have had with YSI?
My biggest takeaway from this experience is, as I mentioned before, gaining an incredible amount of passion for going into the medical field. I had been pre-med for a while now and had had previous experiences that showed me that I would like this kind of work, but YSI has shown me that I will love the medical profession. I am excited to (hopefully) go into medical school after I graduate this year and go out into the world and continue doing work like the medical professionals in YSI.