Angelica Matwiejczuk, 2018

Angelica Matwiejczuk ‘18

Hometown: Suffern, NY
Major: Biology

“This trip gave me more experience in one week than I could have ever gotten in the U.S. I’d have to be in graduate or medical school to do and see the things I did.”

So many individual pieces of Angelica’s life pointed toward a future in medicine. She originally drew her inspiration and worth ethic to help people from her mom, who is a nurse. From a young age Angelica loved and excelled in the sciences, especially AP bio.

In college, as a biology major, it hit her.

“This is what I want to do – something in the medical field that helps others,” Angelica recalls.

So she spent her time at STAC studying hard, shadowing doctors over school breaks, and searching for opportunities that would get her closer to her dream of a career in medicine.

And then she found one: a weeklong International Service Learning experience in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. She jumped at the chance.

“I knew that once I graduate, I’ll have to work and won’t have time to do things like this,” Angelica says.

Angelica Matwiejczuk

So she spent a week of her winter break working with the International Service Learning organization conducting house-to-house surveys and screenings and helping to staff hospitals and clinics throughout Puerto Peñasco, a city located 50 miles south of the Arizona border. The city is poor and rife with healthcare challenges.

“We got there and got right into it. We were taught to take vitals and immediately went into the poor neighborhood of San Rafael,” Angelica says. “I had enough of a Spanish background that I could actually communicate on my own to work with doctors and nurses and to ask patients questions about their age, chronic illnesses, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.”

And Angelica got a lot more than a letter of recommendation out of the experience.

“Here in the U.S., it’s hard to get hands on experience in the medical field because there are so many regulations. In Mexico, even though I’m not a medical professional, the people treated me with so much respect and appreciation – like family,” Angelica says. “Many of the people we visited in the neighborhood of San Rafael have no electricity and no running water, but they were very grateful we were there helping them. They didn't realize they were also helping us out.”

After graduation, Angelica plans to take a gap year to work before applying to graduate schools to become a physician assistant.

“My trip solidified that I’m on the right track,” Angelica says. “As long as I’m helping people and living a fulfilling life, I’m happy.”