During a conversation with a Latino mother while volunteering at a local hospital, senior Emily Wunsch received a glimpse of the hardships in the Latino community. The mother recounted details of the difficulties she faces while navigating a foreign healthcare system as well as the lack of understanding she often experiences from healthcare professionals. This conversation sparked Emily’s desire to develop more comprehensive health programs for Latino communities in the US.
Emily is one of the university’s six 2016 Plastino Scholars. The David A. Plastino Scholar Program provides funds for students to use in pursuing their passions in self-designed, off-campus learning experiences that create a difference in their lives and in the lives of others. With this opportunity, Emily was able to combine her interests in both healthcare and Spanish to learn how to provide more effective healthcare to the Latino community in Delaware.
After learning about the Plastino Scholars Program from her roommate, Emily realized that the award would help her create the opportunities that she was having difficulty finding in a typical internship. No longer having to worry about geographic limitations, Emily was able to travel to Latino healthcare centers in California, Texas and Oklahoma for three weeks to gain insight to bring back to her work in Delaware.
“Through my travels, the most important thing (I learned) was that there are many layers to cultural competency,” Emily says. “Being empathic to the struggles of the indigent population is not the same thing as personally experiencing the healthcare disparities. As an outsider there is a limit of understanding. After my trip, I believe I can best help the Latino community as an advocate.”
Emily continues to pursue experiences that will give her the skills and knowledge necessary to continue to improve healthcare for the Latino community. After graduation, Emily hopes to work for Teach For America as a Spanish teacher and attend graduate school. She hopes that working in underserved communities for a few years will give her the practical experience she needs to figure out and pursue her ultimate goals.
“Eventually I would love to have a job in healthcare policy at either a city or state level,” Emily says. “I think the changes in policy are a critical step towards creating more accessible healthcare.”
Emily is currently working on a senior thesis and is a candidate for Honors Degree with Distinction.
Feature written by: Victoria Dellacava, ’17