Michelle Disher – DiversityJobs Scholarship Finalist for April 2012’s scholarship program for diversity and minority students is proud to announce Michelle Disher as one of the three finalists for its April deadline application. Vote for her essay by clicking the thumbs up button at the bottom of the page, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

Michelle Disher’s Essay:

How did you choose your major? What obstacles have you had to overcome and what will it mean to you to graduate with this degree?

I selected my major before I began my undergraduate study at the University of Denver. A young and adventurous high school student, I wanted opportunities for travel. I had dreams of becoming a diplomat, or working as a photographer for national geographic. My scope as far as careers went was wide, so long as I would have the chance to see the world.In my sophomore year of high school, I went on a two-week trip with my school to Italy and Greece. Yes, I did the  typical tourist thing, going to museums and spending three days on a cruise where everyone spoke English. Yet these two weeks may have been some of the most important, because they fostered a desire to understand the world beyond my own. In a significant way, the trip made me realize how small my world was and how  much of the real world there was to see.

The international experience and the idea of becoming a “citizen of the world” was also the impetus for choosing the University of Denver for my undergraduate study. Their Korbel School of International Study was renowned, and offered study abroad programs at the same cost as tuition. What I did not expect to gain from an International Studies degree was the desire to become a doctor. The thought had never entered my mind, in fact I had sworn off math  and science once I graduated from high school. I didn’t think it would be rewarding for me. A course I took called “Infectious Diseases in International Politics” changed everything. 

College was opening my eyes to the interconnectedness of almost any field with international affairs. Economics, politics, health, gender- you name it. What appealed to me the more I learned was the ability to help people. Not just to work for a non-profit and hand out food, but really to give the needy something they could never get themselves. Much help offered by richer nations involves politics, usually to the tune of the Western world saying that they know the path to development that everyone my follow. Science and medicine is beautiful, because it is really  knowledge without social and political bias. It can be given to those who need and want it, for the goal of saving lives, not rebuilding societies or cultures.

Disease is a universal burden that prevents any person from bettering their own situation, and 3rd world countries cannot afford to make or keep good doctors like here in the U.S.  I decided I wanted to give people good health, and more than that, to teach people how to do basic medical care for their own neighbors in the third world. What has changed between  my freshman year and now is that I don’t want to be the hero anymore, but a resource to help people be their own heroes. 

I am combining an International Studies major with a science minor to have a career in medicine informed by social, political, and economic factors that are tying nations together. My  ultimate dream would be to open a clinic, likely in South America, that offers health care but also offers training and jobs for providing basic care to others. I can now speak 4 languages: English, Spanish, French, and Italian, and I hope to begin taking Arabic when my courses allow me the time. I am working tirelessly to get into medical school, and have volunteered in mentally disabled clinics in Italy, learned emergency medical training in Italian, and am hoping to expand my volunteer experience in medicine more than anything. Even if i don’t get in, I plan to keep studying, keep trying and applying. I don’t necessarily need a medical degree to follow my dream, and if I have to I will achieve without it, but I greatly desire to go out into the world with as many tools for my success and that of others when I graduate.