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IUPUI student joins Timmy Global Health for medical mission to the Dominican Republic

Mar. 27, 2014

A week in the Dominican Republic with Timmy Global Health taught Anna Brenneman a lot about potential careers in health care, whetting her appetite for a return trip to the Caribbean country with the organization during spring break 2014.

Anna Brenneman

Anna Brenneman visits the shoreline in the town of Montecristi during the spring break 2013 Timmy Global Health trip to the Dominican Republic.

The School of Science senior had her eyes opened wide last spring break during her first international trip with Timmy Global Health, serving several banana farm communities near the town of Montecristi.

“I hate to be a cliché, but it opened me up in a totally different way,” said Brenneman. Seven days of working in clinical settings in the Dominican Republic “instilled a passion in me to work with people less fortunate than I,” she added.

“Shadowing these physicians, nurses, pharmacists and community health leaders imparted a sense of thankfulness I had never before felt,” Brenneman said of her Dominican Republic trip. “What I did not expect was my growing aspiration to study how to provide care on a national and global scale. Public and global health were not disciplines I foresaw myself being interested in, until I saw the inequities in a single community in single country abroad.”

Founded by a graduate of the IU School of Medicine, Timmy Global Health sends about 600 to 700 individuals abroad each year to provide medical assistance in countries such as Ecuador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and El Salvador.

The 2013 Dominican Republic trip kept Brenneman busy throughout the week, and this year's trip was no different. Students on the trip worked at different stations each day, from pharmaceutical dispersal to translation skills to observing professionals at work.

“I enjoyed observing medical professionals in action,” she said. “It was a nice introduction to family care, and made me realize how challenging that career could be.”

Anna Brenneman

Anna Brenneman, first row standing fifth from left, and members of the Timmy Global Health crew that traveled to the Dominican Republic on spring break of 2013.

Brenneman, who was a Top 100 student in both 2013 and 2014, said she knew as early as her high school sophomore year that she wanted to be a physician.

"I knew I wanted to be pre-med, and even though I didn’t have a strong background in biology, I fell in love with the discipline," she said. "I don’t know what I would have done without the help of mentors here, at IUPUI. The best reward is that I’ve been able to give the same help to others."

The trip may turn out to be a pivotal moment in her life. “As each day passed, I could see my career path taking shape,” Brenneman said. “I knew I wanted to learn more about how to make community health better, not just there, but in our country too.”

As big a role as the Timmy Global Health experience played in her life, Brenneman also points to other sources of inspiration over the course of her four years as an undergraduate, including her work as president of IUPUI’s Undergraduate Women in Science. The campus organization was founded in 2012 to help women enjoy a richer undergraduate experience through service, academic and professional resources, leadership opportunities and a supportive community of women that share an interest in science.

Also a source of inspiration during her years as a student at IUPUI has been the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of faculty members across the campus' life sciences schools.

"Research has played a big role in my career path," she said. "My academic career wouldn’t be complete without those experiences of working with talented researchers at IUPUI and in the IU School of Medicine."

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