BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College senior, Michael Jean-Baptiste spring plans included a summer international travel experience in Ecuador to study health care systems in that country. When the paperwork arrangements in Ecuador created a travel blockade, the West Palm Beach, FL native was able to substitute a trip instead to Peru. The experience he gained in the country served to reinforce his aspirations of pursuing a career in medicine.
Baptiste, who is a nursing major at Wesleyan, was afforded the summer travel opportunity through the College’s Dr. Harold T. Elmore Emeritus Club International Travel Scholarship.
“I cannot even begin to describe the benefits I gained from this experience,” said Baptiste. “I became more fluent in the Spanish language to officially become fluent in four spoken languages: French, Haitian Creole, and English. I had the opportunity to volunteer in a clinic where I saw first-hand how health systems in other countries are very different than what we see in the United States. I also had the chance to apply the skills I have learned in nursing at Wesleyan to help patients and to serve as a translator for tourists from other parts of the world who did not understand English.”
While Baptiste is majoring in nursing, his ultimate goal is to become a medical doctor. “I have always wanted to pursue medicine, but my Peru experience made me fall in love with nursing in ways I never imagined, “ he continued. “I gained valuable insights into how to best interact with patients and people in general. The experience fostered my desire to work with health care providers in impoverished countries and in particular, helping children in those countries. The end result of this experience is that I know my ultimate desire is become a pediatric physician.”
Baptiste will never forget his summer international travel opportunity. “Every day of my time in Peru has been a highlight,” stated Baptiste. “I have loved visiting places and monuments and hiking some of the most iconic mountains on the whole world, including climbing the ruins of Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain in Peru, which stands at 5,200 meters.”
“I was really disappointed at first when the Ecuador trip fell through,” Baptiste concluded. “However, traveling to Peru resulted in a much broader experience. It provided me with more opportunities that Ecuador would have offered. I am immensely grateful to the faculty who helped make this trip possible, especially those who have given generously to the Dr. Harold T. Elmore Emeritus Club International Travel Scholarship.”