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Volunteer Success Stories

Kristen Myren

Kristen MyrenMy name is Kristin Myren and I served at Clinica from March 2012 to March 2013 working as a clinic facilitator and receptionist. I now live and work in Colorado in the corporate health industry. During my time at Clinica, I helped revise the way we input our patient data, communicated with physicians and holistic providers and assisted with our yearly fundraiser. Clinica Amistad was an incredible place to learn about health disparities and inequalities in underserved communities, and was a place where everyone put their full heart and soul into the mission of the clinic. I learned so much about healthcare and public health and took advantage of the incredible opportunity to develop my Spanish skills.  I highly recommend volunteering at Clinica Amistad – a guaranteed way to meet amazing people and gain life-changing experience both personally and professionally.

Clark Alves

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My name is Clark Alves, and I am second-year medical student at the University of Arizona. I also received an interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology, International Development and Spanish and a Master’s of Public Health in Global Family and Child Health at the U of A. The first time I volunteered at Clínica Amistad was in August of 2009. As soon as I walked in the door, I knew it was the place for me.

From 2009 to 2014, I volunteered as a Spanish/English interpreter and vital signs tech at Clínica Amistad, and during that time, I realized there were two things I appreciated most about Clínica: (1) it seeks to serve members of our community who would have very little or no access to care otherwise and (2) the volunteers and atmosphere at the clinic help it to truly live up to its name, which means “friendship” in Spanish. Someday, I hope to complete a residency in Family Medicine or Pediatrics and to work/volunteer in clinics like Clínica both in the U.S. and internationally. Without a doubt, Clínica Amistad played a critical role in both inspiring my aspirations and in making them possible. Just as an example, volunteering at Clínica helped me gain tangible skills (such as fluency in Spanish and basic clinical skills), while also allowing me to experience how rewarding it could be to serve patients who had no other options for quality care.

Zachary Gastelum

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My name is Zachary Gastelum, and I am from Santa Maria, California. I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2014, and I am currently a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson. I began volunteering at Clinica Amistad in the summer of 2012 where I started as a triage volunteer and interpreter. A year later, I also began volunteering as a provider helper.

Clinica Amistad played an important role in my decision to becoming a physician. I witnessed the reality of a broken health care system that left people struggling day-to-day with untreated, chronic health conditions. Moreover, Clinica opened my eyes to the health disparities that exist here in our Tucson community. Despite these challenges, Clinica has a way of uniting people from diverse backgrounds- native Tucsonans, recent immigrants, and refugees. What inspired me most about volunteering at Clinica was witnessing the universal healing power of healthcare, where all people are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

My time at Clinica has encouraged me to work with the underserved Latino community as a physician, by which I hope to address minority health disparities and improve patient health education. In addition, I am interested in border health and addressing the health challenges border families and immigrants face when living on or crossing the border. I am very grateful for my time spent at Clinica and for all of the wonderful mentors and volunteers I had the pleasure of working with.

Alex Presler

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Hi! I’m Alex Presler, a 24-year-old former Clinica Amistad volunteer. I am currently in my second (and final!) year of Physician Assistant (PA) School. I was accepted to NAU’s PA program straight out of undergrad in large part to the support I received from the Clinica Amistad family throughout my undergraduate years at The University of Arizona. I volunteered at Clinica Amistad from 2010 through 2013. I was mainly a front desk worker, but I also was a vitals helper, and an interpreter in a pinch. I was regularly one of the last volunteers to leave, as I loved getting time to socialize with the other volunteers during cleanup. I also went to quite a few board meetings and I was a co-founder of the Quality Assurance Committee.

Looking back, Clinica Amistad was by far the best thing that I was a part of during my time in Tucson. When I started volunteering at Clinica Amistad in my sophomore year of college, I thought maybe I wanted to be a PA, but I really didn’t have a lot of healthcare experience. As I found my place within the clinic, and got to know the patients and providers I became confident in my path. I loved practicing Spanish with the patients and learning about medicine along the way. I absolutely cherished Wednesday nights, when the most amazing group of people came together to serve the community. I will graduate in August, and after I pass my boards I will start looking for my first real job as a PA. I’m not sure where I will end up, but if I find my way back to Tucson, I know where my Wednesday nights will be spent. It would be a dream come true to return to Clinica Amistad as a health care provide.

Nuria Sisterna

NuriaI was born in Argentina, moved to Arizona when I was 11 years old. I am currently 24 years old and studying to go to medical school. I am part of the inaugural Pathways Scholars class at the University of Arizona College of Medicine- Phoenix. I volunteered at Clinica from March 2012 – May 2014. I started out as an interpreter volunteer, and became one of the volunteer coordinators helping with training of new volunteers. I am currently at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. Apart from my studies I am also volunteering with an international organization that provides medical care to underserved areas in Mexico. I am also working on a thesis for school that I am very passionate about – it involves creating a sexual health curriculum for Somali, Congolese, and Burundi refugee women.

Volunteering at Clinica Amistad taught me what it’s like to really be a part of a community. It opened my eyes to the great need for universal healthcare; the amount of people, programs, and organizations that work together to help create a bridge for those in need; and the impact just one organization, person, or a medicine can have on someone’s life. As a translator, initially I did not realize the impact I had on our patients, but eventually I saw how every single person at Clinica is crucial to the patients and the community we serve. Simply speaking in the patient’s native language can help them feel cared for, which is something every human should feel. The experience at Clinica Amistad provided me with many personal, medical, and leadership skills that I use daily, and will continue to use in my future as a physician. I plan on graduating with my M.D. in 2019 and continuing into a residency program. I hope to become a physician in an underserved area, where I can continue to serve those in need and also focus on teaching preventative care.