In recognition of the value of student-designed projects that supplement curricular learning, Boston College awards Advanced Study Grants to promising undergraduate students. In the summer of 2016, two KILN juniors, Lanah Han and Lea Nelligan, submitted winning proposals. Lanah traveled to South Korea to complete her project, “Exploring Options for US Healthcare: Lessons to Be Learned from South Korea,” and Lea traveled to Ecuador to complete her project, “Care of the Whole Person: Medicine and Cultural Connection.” Lanah and Lea share their reflections below:

My firsthand experience in South Korea has allowed me to realize many things about the healthcare system and about myself. After seeing the success of universal healthcare implementation in South Korea, I believe that it is possible to improve healthcare across the world. I want to address health equity issues and contribute to improving healthcare access and quality for all.

Lanah Han and a pharmacy in South Korea

I am interested in learning more about global health and finding out how other countries manage their healthcare system; however, I know that I will face unexpected challenges along the way, including language barriers. I even struggled with this in South Korea, my native country. Although I am relatively fluent in Korean, I had some difficulty understanding the medical terminology. Immediate change is impossible. However, I hope to slowly bring about change by shifting people’s perspectives on the healthcare system. I am very grateful to the faculty who guided me toward a successful Advanced Study Grant application and I recommend that others pursue the opportunity.

Lanah Han

Traveling to a foreign country alone was a major step for me that will allow me to better serve the Spanish-speaking populations I work with after graduation.

Lea Nelligan (left) with her host mom in Quito, Ecuador

My host mother in Quito, Ecuador, Gloria Ines, did not speak any English. I learned to use body language, gestures and expression in addition to language, and sometimes it was necessary to pull out a Spanish-English dictionary. In addition to language and cultural immersion, I realized my passion for mental health issues and saw the great need for resources in Latin America. This new direction has already led me to pursue jobs in the mental health field, and I have realized that social service resources for at-risk populations are scarce even in the US. Overall, going to Ecuador for Spanish immersion was so much more than language acquisition. The incredible level of independence I had helped me grow a leader, because I had to advocate for myself and learn how to work autonomously. I am truly grateful for this opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Lea Nelligan