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Building Hope

Life as a pre-med student is busy, no question about it. Reham Garash '14, a biology major with a pre-medical concentration, has sacrificed many social events to stay focused on her studies, but she is well on her way to becoming a successful doctor.

Garash moved to Charlotte with her husband three years ago from Saudi Arabia. She looked at other universities in the area, but fell in love with Queens the moment she stepped onto campus. "I really liked how small and welcoming Queens felt," Garash said.

All students at Queens are required to do an internship before graduating. Garash wanted to do hers at a hospital to get clinical hours and hands-on experience before applying to medical school. She was intrigued by a program called Projects Abroad, one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world. 

Through Projects Abroad, Garash landed an internship at a hospital in Panadura, Sri Lanka, a small, impoverished city. 

"I specifically chose Sri Lanka because I wanted to be exposed to extreme poverty and learn how to interact with struggling people who seek free healthcare," said Garash. 

For one month, Garash worked at the hospital in Sri Lanka in four different departments: Pediatric, Emergency, Surgery and Women's Health. During her time there, she shadowed doctors who taught her how they diagnose patients and treat them.

Garash couldn't help but notice the extremely poor conditions of the hospital, conditions that in some cases were worsening the patients' illnesses. Many patients were infecting others because there was no isolation room for patients with contagious disease. Garash decided to assign herself an extra project: raise enough money to build the hospital an isolation room.

Garash called everyone she knew back home to donate money. She raised $4,000, which was enough to build and furnish the isolation room. They finished building it in two weeks, and the physicians threw Garash a party for the life-changing difference she had made. 

"I feel so satisfied with what I have gained from this experience and have learned to appreciate everything I have," said Garash.

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