January 12, 2015 10:28 am

CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT: Queen's University

Written by Molly Trerotola

MEDLIFE at Queen's university started small, but, with the dedication of a few motivated students, it grew rapidly. Read this interview with students from one of Canada's very successful chapters and what they do for fundraising events, member recruitment, and their goals for this coming year!

When and how did your chapter begin?

MEDLIFE Queen's began in the fall of 2012. Inspired by the success of the McGill chapter, we wanted to provide students at Queen's University with opportunities to contribute to MEDLIFE's mission. What started as five friends sitting around a kitchen table has now grown into a major source for student involvement opportunities on campus.

What strategies do you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus? 

To promote MEDLIFE on campus, we strive to maintain visibility, both in person and online via social media. Whenever possible, we try to establish a face-to-face connection with students – whether that be through clubs fairs, class talks, or simply by setting up at a table in the student center, we do our best to ensure MEDLIFE Queen's remains an available and approachable organization. In addition, we work to maintain a strong social media presence, focusing on eye-catching images and graphics. We post these not only on our own page, but also within various Facebook groups to maximize our reach. By ensuring our online presence remains professional and visually impactful, we feel we set ourselves apart from other groups on campus.

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What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?

To recruit new members, we rely a great deal on clubs fairs and events – this makes September a very busy month for us!  We also send information through department email lists periodically throughout the year to promote new opportunities for involvement.  Our chapter is organized into a number of committees, namely Mobile Clinics, Fundraising, Outreach & Education, Conference, and Expansion. These committees plan and execute various initiatives and require an application and interview to sit on. For students wishing to join the chapter in a more casual way, there are many ways to get involved, including volunteering, socials, outreach events, and talks.

What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year? 

Throughout the year, our chapter hosts a number of fundraisers and other events.  This past semester we have held a Western-themed fundraising event at a downtown bar, volunteered at a local soup kitchen, set up a “MEDMail” booth to allow students to send postcards to MEDLIFE staff and volunteers, and have held a number of general meetings. Next semester, we are looking forward to a benefit concert, 5k run, global development conference, and much more!

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What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?

For this academic year, our goals include running three successful mobile clinic trips in addition to a development corps trip. We are also looking forward to new initiatives, such as our benefit concert and conference, as well as continuing annual events such as our 5k. In addition, we have placed a greater focus this year on outreach and education activities, with the aim of increasing on-campus engagement with health and human rights issues, both locally and globally.

December 29, 2014 10:25 am

50:50 CAMPAIGN SPOTLIGHT: Aubrey Kuester

Written by Rosali Vela

Read about one of our volunteer's experience organizing a highly successful 50:50 campaign for her trip to Cusco, Peru! Find out more about the 50:50 campaign here.

342-1-Aubrey-Kuester-5050Name: Aubrey Kuester

Amount raised: $1285

What are you studying? I study at Florida State University and I'm studying exercise science. 

How did you hear about the 50:50 campaign? I heard about the 50:50 campaign when I signed up through the MEDLIFE website. The campaign is advertised on the first page, and it seemed like the easiest and most effective way to raise money.

Why did you decided to organize a 50:50 campaign? I decided to organize a 50:50 campaign to not only raise money for my own trip but I also wanted to help the communities in any way that I could, and I know it would be easier for my relatives donate.

How many weeks did your campaign last? I started my 50:50 campaign roughly a month before my trip and I reached out to all my relatives and friends in my community to help me make this trip possible.

What did you do to make your campaign most successful? What I did specifically to raise money was send emails to most of my friends and relatives, also my old coaches and teachers that I've had in the past. I wrote a personal email, not just a generic one they provided on the website, and I sent it personally to all my relatives with their name and my own link to my personal page. I think it was really effective because half the money was donated to Cusco. People were more willing to donate rather than the money just going to me. It ended up being a great advantage for my campaign and I ended raising a lot of money that way.

Did you encounter any obstacles in the process? How did you overcome them? It was a little difficult getting people to donate online, some people were skeptical about putting their credit card through an Internet system, but I think the 50:50 campaign is a really secure and easy way to donate.

How was organizing a 50:50 campaign a positive experience? The 50:50 campaign was extremely rewarding, specially after I came here to Cusco and witnessed it first hand how little the people here are working with and the conditions that they have to deal with. Knowing that I personally raised a significant amount of money, enough for medicine for 90 people and supplies so they can use in a daily basis, just made it extremely rewarding.

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What do you think of your volunteer trip? Its been extremely rewarding so far, especially seeing the smiles on the kids faces and actually been hands on and experiencing the culture here. It has been extremely worth it.

How do you feel about the impact you have made by raising money to support a local community? Before I came to Cusco, I didn't know what to expect. Personally, witnessing the conditions that people have to deal with here, and how little medical attention they have, what little access they have to proper medicine and education makes an organization like MEDLIFE really important. It has such a positive effect on the community since we are not asking for any money, we are giving free medical attention to people that truly need it, that they might have to drive or walk hours to get just basic health care. It is something that is very close to my heart and I couldn't be happier about being here.

 

 

December 11, 2014 9:18 am

CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT: UW-Madison

Written by Molly Trerotola

MEDLIFE at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a big presence on campus with their effective recruitment efforts and dynamic events. Though part of the MEDLIFE community since 2010, the upcoming year is bound to be an exciting one for this Big Ten chapter. Along with growth in membership, UW-Madison is looking forward to working on a large-scale water project for which they are partnered with MEDLIFE and an international corporation.

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When and how did your chapter begin?

Wisconsin MEDLIFE began five years ago when Chris McCarthy heard about MEDLIFE from a friend at another school. Since then, we are proud to have grown our chapter to over 70 members strong!

What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus? 

We promote MEDLIFE on campus through tabling in high traffic areas on campus, and manning those tables with exec members who can provide students with information about MEDLIFE. Other publicity events include fundraisers and events. Some past fundraisers include an event called “Bucky's Got Talent”, a campus-wide showcase talent show, our 5k, “Active For Agua” where both students and Madison community members participated in a fundraising event. Other events usually include collaboration with other student orgs. Wisconsin MEDLIFE is part of the Global Health Coalition on campus. This coalition sponsors many health related conferences like Wisconsin “Public Health Week”, where MEDLIFE exec members help plan out the week's events, bringing in keynote speakers and speaking themselves about the work MEDLIFE does. Next semester, we are hosting either a date auction or fashion show, which will require collaboration across campus.

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What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?

The first three weeks of each semester is a prime time for recruitment. We table heavily in dining halls, high traffic buildings, and at the student org fair by having exec members man the tables and provide info about MEDLIFE! One other strategy that we use is an email blast to the whole campus of 42,000 students through an email listserv we obtain from the office of the Registrar. We have also found it effective for members to spread MEDLIFE awareness through word-of-mouth. Many new chapter members are gained by others sharing their experiences they've had with the organization. New members are required to do the same things as every other member. Each semester, we ask members to complete seven “points” and pay dues to be in “good standing”. Points are acquired by attending meetings, participating in volunteering events, fundraisers, marketing events, and socials. Dues are either $25 for the academic year, or $15 per semester and both options include a Wisconsin MEDLIFE t-shirt.

What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year? 

Wisconsin MEDLIFE organizes chapter socials and volunteering events to keep members engaged throughout the year. Past social events have included campfires at Picnic Point off of Lake Mendota, dinners and ice-skating. Volunteer events have include making food for a soup kitchen, campus clean ups, nature preservation projects, and volunteering at food pantries in the Madison area. We also have made toothbrush packages for donation to MEDLIFE that member bring with them on MEDLIFE trips.

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What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?

Our goals for the 2014 and 2015 year include running successful winter and summer clinics, as well as finalizing a partnership with the Coca-Cola Company in developing a clean water project for those in need in Lima. Executive board members Jeremy O'Brien and Aaron Anderson, along with MEDLIFE staff Tim Anson met with Julia Sobrevilla from Coca-Cola Perú this past summer. She explained that Coca-Cola has the funds to cover the project we proposed. She threw some more logistics back at us to figure out, and exec members Jeremy O'Brien, Mari Sandoval, and Lauren Gladowski are meeting with her again this January in Lima for the second time. The project calls for purchasing tanques de aguas with filters, and distributing them to communities in need. Since the first meeting with Coca-Cola Perú this past summer, Wisconsin MEDLIFE has organized a “Water Project” committee with our members. Tori Charpentier, Development Corps Director at Wisconsin MEDLIFE has been running the committee, and been in contact with MEDLIFE in Lima, fostering grassroots organizing on the community end with Carlos Benavides, MEDLIFE in Peru's Director. Hopefully this January with the hard work Wisconsin MEDLIFE and staff in Lima has been putting forward, we will finalize the plan and partnership with Coca-Cola.

November 25, 2014 9:21 am

CHAPTER SPOTLIGHT: McGill

Written by Karli Wagner

Standing out recently for its successful work organizing MEDtalks, McGill's MEDLIFE Chapter has a lot to be proud of. This chapter continues to grow since it was launched in 2010 and sets high goals for the future. Our interview with Canada's biggest chapter delves into how they leverage social media to grow the organization's presence on campus, what creative events they plan to keep members engaged and the new "UpClose events" they swapped in for general meetings.

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When and how did your chapter begin?

MEDLIFE McGill started in 2010. In 2011, led by Nicole Milward, our chapter greatly expanded our impact on campus. Through effective PR and campus presence, our chapter sent over 100 students to participate in Mobile Clinics that year. Since then, MEDLIFE McGill started many initiatives on campus to further increase awareness of international development and healthcare issues, student body involvement, and fundraising events.

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What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus? 

Since McGill has such a large population, we have been using mainly social media to promote MEDLIFE to students. This involves Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our website. We also promote MEDLIFE through weekly emails to our general members, as well as to various faculties and departments to expand our membership. For specific events and trips promotion, we have committee members make announcements before classes begin, accompanied by PowerPoint slides. In addition, our committees have monthly tabling dates around campus and residences, where they promote upcoming events and trips, as well as the general goals and objectives of MEDLIFE.

What system do you use to recruit new members? What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?

At the beginning of every semester, we participate in our university's club fair where new and returning students can browse through the various clubs on campus. At the club fair, we introduce the activities and accomplishments of MEDLIFE McGill and ask the interested students to sign up for our Listserv, which is our electronic mailing system that sends weekly updates about our upcoming events. Afterwards, we hold our first General Meeting for our newly interested students, where we delve into the details of our specific events on campus, as well as our Mobile and Development Trips abroad. There, we also promote the applications to our student committees that our general members can join. Depending on their specific interests, new students can join a committee that suits their strengths and how they wish to contribute to MEDLIFE, whether it be through Fundraising, Tutorials, Sponsorships, Trips or Events. After the committee applications have been processed and its members selected, the executive team will put together a Club Workshop for the new committee members to discuss the nuances of our involvement on campus and abroad, as well as boost team morale. After the club workshop, the new committee members have their own responsibilities under their portfolio; instructed by the executive team member in charge of the committee, the members will contribute to the on-campus events and activities of MEDLIFE McGill.

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What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year? 

To keep our members interested, we hold various events and fundraisers on campus. Every month, we have UpClose events, which are drop-in information sessions that we opted to do instead of general meetings. At UpClose, have various booths set up where members can speak to our various executives and committee members about trips, fundraisers, and events. Since 2012, we have also been holding semesterly MEDTalks conferences, where various speakers from the McGill and Montreal community are invited to talk about issues in developing countries. This semester, the topic of our MEDTalks conference is Healthcare in Marginalized Countries and will feature a McGill professor of medicine, an addictions counselor who worked in rural, native communities, and also the founder of our chapter. As for fundraisers, the past couple of years we have tried to focus our events to be more aligned with the three objectives of MEDLIFE (medicine, education, and development). At the beginning of this semester, we had our 5K: Taking STEPS walk/run through McGill campus as well as clubbing night. Next semester, we will have our second annual multicultural coffeehouse, where we invite clubs and students to perform and also educate members on the diversity in McGill. We are also planning a restaurant night in downtown Montreal, de-stressing yoga sessions, and an event at our campus bar. All the funds raised goes towards the MEDLIFE Fund, but this year we are specifically raising money towards building a cafeteria in Lima, Peru, which we feel is a substantial goal for our members.

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What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?

Our goals this year include raising more awareness for our Mobile Clinics and our new DevCorps Trips on campus through more effective student promotions and events, increase our Local Initiatives projects both on campus and in Montreal, and reach our fundraising goal of $15,000. Our chapter has been rapidly expanding our on-campus impact in the last 2 years; we aim to keep the ball rolling year, as well as strengthen our promotional focus for our international volunteer trips.

 

The University of Puerto Rico at Recinto de Rio Piedras' MEDLIFE chapter never seizes to impress! This chapter has seen significant progress since it got its start three years ago. From organizing consistently successful events, to achieving incredible growth in membership, this MEDLIFE stands out as a group with a big impact. Read the following interview with U.P.R.R.P. to learn more about this chapter, how they recruit new members, and what they do to support MEDLIFE's mission on campus and in the local community.

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When and how did your chapter begin? What strategies did you use to promote MEDLIFE on campus? 

Our MEDLIFE chapter, UPR-RP, began three years ago. Only eight people showed up to our first meeting, but regardless, we stayed motivated and continued with the chapter.  At the beginning, we had one or two activities per month, and little by little more people kept joining.  The following year, the chapter had 120 people and in the winter of that year we were able to bring around 60 of those members on a mobile clinic trip, which was a huge achievement for us.  After that trip people just couldn't resist our marketing!  We increased the number of activities, had our first initiation as a club and ended up with 180 people in our chapter.  The following academic year, in August of 2014, we made a huge push in advertising through Facebook and all over the University; we held lots of service activities almost every week, in addition to fundraisers and other chapter activities.  I feel very proud to say that after our aggressive recruitment campaign, we now have more than 375 active members of our chapter.

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What process does a new member go through once part of the chapter?

In order for a member to be considered “active” in our organization, they have to participate in at least three service activities and two fundraisers.  Beyond that, they have to attend the chapter meetings and must always demonstrate our organization's values.

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What activities do you organize to keep your members interested throughout the year? 

We have activities literally every week, which are either service or fundraising events. We always put photos from the events on Facebook, which makes other people want to participate in our activities.  We organize activities based on what our members ask for; if they want to work with homeless people, then we do activities that have to do with the homeless, both children and the elderly.  We also work together with several other organizations when they need volunteers.  The idea is to do simple but interesting activities.

We have some fun fundraising activities such as selling treats and cards that we made for Valentine's Day, selling pizza, selling breakfast or lunch, and bake sales with our famous brownies!  We hold educational activities, such as our first MEDTalk where we brought a public health specialist, who is held in very high-esteem here in Puerto Rico, Dr. Vargas Vidot.  He focuses his practice on service and helping people in need. During this event, 80 people attended, and we had students from the InterAmerican UPR–Aguadilla chapter come as well!

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What are your goals as a chapter for this academic year (2014-2015)?

Our goals for this academic year, 2014-2015:

  1. Have over 250 chapter members – Done!
  2. Fundraise $500 during the first semester – Done!
  3. Have our first MEDTalk UPR-RP – Done!
  4. Take on a community project in Peru
  5. Do the first mobile clinic in Puerto Rico
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