Haiti Trip Confirms Career Path For Pre-Med Student

It’s one thing to dream of one day serving a disadvantaged community.

And then there’s actually doing it.

Javier Cintron recently had the opportunity to test drive his career goals with a weeklong trip to an impoverished community in Haiti.  UCF has had a permanent presence in the rural mountain village of Mare-Brignol through a clinic operated since 2011 by the non-profit International Medical Outreach (IMO). In 2018, the UCF Department of Anthropology in tandem with IMO launched the new Global Health Internship.

Cintron, an Anthropology and Biology double major, was the first intern in the new program to visit the village over Winter Break. His role was to both assist the medical team and conduct fieldwork into the key health issues in the community. He found that water insecurity – both access and cleanliness – is central to the local population’s health problems. The double duty was demanding, but Cintron said he relished the opportunity to learn and experience healthcare provision firsthand.

“I learned a lot about myself and what goes into these kinds of studies. And I found I really enjoyed talking with new people,” Cintron said. 

Cintron’s passion for healthcare — and his concentration in medical anthropology — stems from a childhood watching his mother’s practice as a primary care physician in Panama City. Her patients primarily came from impoverished backgrounds, and Cintron’s mother’s compassionate care made an impact on him.

Cintron arrived at UCF with the intention of studying biomedical sciences, but a general anthropology class grabbed his attention. After his experiences in Haiti, he plans to go to medical school but he will merge the study of medicine with research in an M.D./Ph.D. program. His topic of study will be disparities in access to healthcare and the solutions that can correct them — exactly what he pursued in Haiti.

“When you’re blessed you should give back,” Cintron said. “You’re better off when you help people with the resources that you have.”

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