One bucket at a time  pg. 3

Ochieng’s own parents reflect another grim statistic: the average 50-year life expectancy in Kenya.

Milton Ochieng’ stands in front of the first of three clinic buildings to be constructed in his village in Kenya.
Photos courtesy of Milton Ochieng'
His father, Erastus, passed away last year at the age of 55 from tuberculosis complicated by HIV infection. His mother, Margaret, a diabetic, died in 2004 at the age of 47 from AIDS-related pneumonia, complicated by typhoid fever and malaria. They had no access to anti-retroviral therapy.

Of the 408 children in the Lwala primary school (grades 1-8), nearly a third has lost one or both parents.

Ochieng’ attended primary school in Lwala and performed well enough on the national exam to be admitted to the prestigious Alliance High School in Kikuyu, near the capital of Nairobi.

There, he learned about Dartmouth College through Alliance High alumni and became further interested after attending Brooks School in Andover, Mass., through a high school exchange program.

In 2002, as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, he helped build a health clinic in Nicaragua.

“A lot of what I saw in Nicaragua were the same things I see in Kenya in terms of poverty and lack of access to primary healthcare,” he says. “Being part of a team that left a lasting impact on a community made me realize that maybe it would be something good to do in my own village.”

When he began applying to medical schools, Ochieng’ looked for a place that had a global health focus. “As I was interviewing with Vanderbilt, I found out about the Emphasis Program, which got my attention,” he says.

Overwhelming need

The Emphasis Program provides students with the opportunity to pursue a variety of research and scholarly activities – from biomedical informatics to medical humanities—during the first two years of medical school. Among the most popular options: international health.

“These students have been brought up thinking it’s a world of global interaction,” explains William Schaffner, M.D., chairman of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt who for many years has been involved in international health.

“They have grown up in communities that are diverse. They have high-school exchange programs and summer field trips abroad ... It’s a globalized world now.”

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