When I first met Dr. Hripsime Wright about a year and a half ago I had no way of knowing how that encounter would change my life. I was hoping to work together on a small project, expecting to do something in locally in Salt Lake City. What I got was not even close… I soon found out that Dr. Wright does not do small.
Over the next year and a half a group of exceptional students came together, and at the request of the Armenian Ministry of Health, developed a pilot program to conduct research about diabetes in Armenia and also provide education on the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Under the guidance of Dr. Wright we were becoming certified investigators and developing skills rarely offered to students. We were becoming global health professionals.
At the end of June, fifteen students from America gathered together in Yerevan, Armenia to begin our fieldwork. With our new set of skills we were eager, and some also quite nervous, to implement our project that we had spent so much time creating.
We visited four medical centers in various regions of Armenia to implement our project and conduct our research and it was a huge success. We connected with the Armenian people on a personal level by taking the time to show each person we encountered that we cared and wanted to help them. In return we were able to gather the data we were looking for and, at least for me, develop an appreciation for the people and culture of Armenia that has changed me forever.
Our two weeks in Armenia may appear to some as a successful end to my meeting and working with Dr. Wright over the last eighteen months but it certainly is only a beginning. Now we have the opportunity use the information we collected to make an even bigger difference in Armenia by identifying specific issues and tailoring our project to address those issues. My dream is that this project will continue for many years. That dozens or even hundreds of students will have the opportunity to join our team and develop global health skills and make a difference in the world. That my small dream will continue to grow until it has affected the lives of millions.
Paul M. Hinckley
University of Utah
Pharm D Candidate 2014