We have the opportunity to work with some amazing people who support NSCS & our mission. Our partner, Kaplan Test Prep, provides a shining example of service…just as we’re doing here at NSCS all month long. Check out this great piece originally published on www.medschoolpulse.com

Kaplan Test Prep & Smile Train partner to send pre-health students on a trip to Guatemala.
When people work together toward a common goal, big smiles emerge. So Kaplan teamed up with 

Smile Train
—an international children’s charity that provides free cleft lip and palate surgeries —and sent four pre-health students on an educational trip to Guatemala. These future doctors, dentists, and healthcare providers not only spent valuable time with the children and their families, but they learned about Smile Train’s sustainability model, which empowers local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%- free cleft repair surgery in their communities.

Meet Alma on her path to unlocking the good life by going to medical school, becoming a pediatrician, and pursuing a career helping children in underserved areas.

Kaplan: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Alma: My name is Alma Habib. I am a Syrian-American who was born in Detroit but grew up in Kansas. I am a registered nurse and currently employed at Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas. While not at the hospital, I focus on my humanitarian work at a nonprofit I started about two years ago that delivers aid to Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.

My charitable efforts thus far—in particular, my recent trip to Guatemala to work with children born with cleft lip and palate—have instilled in me a passion for helping people in underserved populations.

K: What do you hope to do in the future? 

A: My future plans are to attend medical school at the University of Kansas, where I was recently accepted, and become a pediatrician. I would like to focus my career on caring for people who live in poor areas or have little access to healthcare.

K: Tell us about your Smile Train experience in Guatemala.

A: The trip to Guatemala with Kaplan and Smile Train was one of the best experiences of my life. Smile Train is an organization that empowers and funds local doctors in developing countries to perform free cleft lip and palate repair to some of the world’s poorest populations, and the work they do was a constant source of inspiration for me during my trip. Their approach makes continuity of care possible, and it includes surgical procedures in addition to psychological support, dentistry, speech therapy, and patient education.

On this trip, I was fortunate enough to travel to various cities, towns, and rural areas across Guatemala, where I visited clinics and met with patients. I helped clinicians and other volunteers assess patients before surgery, and I heard many moving stories about the profound effects the cleft repairs had on the children and their families. Parents were in tears of gratitude as they spoke to us. This was the best part of the trip—getting the chance to interact with the patients and perform hands-on assessments.

Among those we met in Guatemala, Tessa (of TESS Unlimited) and Cecilia (with Centro infantile de Estomatología y Clínicas Asensio) inspired me most. Both women have dedicated their time and energy to help others. They happily left their previous jobs to care for children with cleft lip or palate, and they are both passionately committed to their charitable work. It has been an honor to meet them and work with their organizations.

Traveling internationally made me realize the high demand for doctors in underserved populations. Several families we met in Guatemala were unaware that a surgical procedure for cleft lip or palate was available for their child. Smile Train partner surgeons and volunteers truly provide life-changing services for them, and this has solidified my desire to be a physician.

K: Can you share some advice to others who are looking to apply to medical school?

A: My advice would be to determine what your individual good life is and pursue that dream. The paths to medical and dental school take effort and dedication; however, they are not impossible. Take advantage of volunteer opportunities and, most importantly, be confident in your abilities. You can also use Kaplan’s test prep resources to study for the MCAT or DAT. The thousands of practice questions they offer really helped me become more familiar with the material being tested on the MCAT.

K: What does the good life mean to you?

A: As citizens of the United States, we have advantages that we sometimes take for granted. My trip to Guatemala with Kaplan and Smile Train has contributed to my realization that it is my duty and responsibility to help those less fortunate than myself. The good life to me is helping others achieve their own good lives. It is making a difference in someone’s life—no matter how small that difference might be.

What have you seen in your pre-health education that has made you smile? Share your experiences in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter. #kaplangoodlife #powerofasmile

– See more at: http://www.medschoolpulse.com/2014/10/28/pre-health-students-bring-smiles-guatemala-almas-story/?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=blog&utm_term=students&utm_content=med-school-pulse&utm_campaign=grad-nscs#sthash.UKgo3AQc.dpuf