International Health Major Serves Community, Looks Ahead to Semester in Ghana

JUNE 18, 2015 – After wrapping up an intensive spring semester as an EMT-B for the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS) and as a community outreach intern, Alexander Porte (NHS’16) will begin his senior year abroad in Navrongo, Ghana.

During the fall semester, Porte, who is an international health major, will participate in the Department of International Health’s research practical experience abroad program. The rising senior says the faculty members have inspired his studies.

“Simply put, I would say that the professors I’ve had conversations with after class are really excited and into the work and research they do,” Porte says. “For me, that’s beyond refreshing.”

Real-World Application

As an EMT-B for GERMS, Porte rides with a team of undergraduate EMTs at least once a week, which has given him a health care provider’s perspective of emergency care. He has recently been promoted to an acting crew chief.

Moreover, as a safety officer for GERMS during the Ebola outbreak, Porte became actively involved in advising best practices in transmission prevention.

“It made me more conscious of the risk that health care providers voluntarily put themselves through,” he says. “It also made me realize that I’m lucky to be a provider in the United States where we have easy access to prevention methods, whereas the responders in West Africa do not and often suffer for it through no fault of their own. It just made everything that I’ve learned in my classes more real for me.”

Community Outreach Experience

During this past spring, Porte worked with Metro Teen AIDS (MTA) as part of a required community health internship. He was drawn to MTA’s mission and has worked to provide HIV prevention and outreach to black youth in the Washington area.

Porte says that hearing the stories of MTA staff members has also helped deepen his connect to the international health major.

“They were all very passionate about what they do,” he says. “I don’t really like the word ‘passionate’ because I think it gets over-used, but there isn’t a better way to describe the staff’s energy and commitment to their work.”

Future Plans

As for plans after graduation, Porte is interested in working in the health and development field, and he hopes to continue his involvement in emergency medicine from a management or advisor role.

“I think my biggest takeaways from Georgetown will be my time in GERMS, working with MTA, going abroad to Navrongo, Ghana next semester, and especially the conversations I’ve had outside the classroom with my favorite professors,” he notes.

By Celeste Chen (C’14, G’16)

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