Admissions Blog

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

In March 2015, while I was conducting my research studies at Duke University (Durham, NC), I joined a team of Duke students and faculty leaders to travel 3,000 miles southwest of Durham to the small town of Las Mercedes, Honduras.

The mission of the trip was to improve access to healthcare in rural areas of Honduras.

The team adjusted to the elevation of the mountain town that sits 5,000 feet above sea level.

At the travel clinic, we were getting comfortable speaking Spanish, and were able to develop a connection with our patients.

We conducted home visits to develop better cross-cultural understanding.

We learnt the local community cultures and values.

We cultivated mutual respect.

Learning Points From the Trip

Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America, with >50% of the people living in poverty.

According the World Health Organization (2015):

  • Poverty is associated with the undermining of a range of key human attributes, including health.
  • The poor are exposed to greater personal and environmental health risks, are less well nourished, have less information, and are less able to access health care.
  • They thus have a higher risk of illness and disability.


Conversely, illness can reduce household savings, lower learning ability, reduce productivity, and lead to a diminished quality of life, thereby perpetuating or even increasing poverty.



  • Scholarship & travel support: Duke Global Health Institute and Heifer International
  • Mentors: Dennis A. Clements, Rosa Solorzano, Penny Cooper, Tim and Gloria Wheeler, Hardean E. Achneck
  • Fellow Students and Team Members


By: Maria Noviani, Class of 2016