University News

Students Become Global Citizens as they Travel to Guatemala in Search of Design Opportunities

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Students visit healthcare facilities in Guatemala
by junior Abigail Helfrich
Students visit healthcare facilities in Guatemala

A dozen Western New England University students traveled to Guatemala in Central America on Tuesday May 17, for 11 days, to visit healthcare facilities in the cities of Quetzaltenango and San Lucas Tolimán. The trip is run by Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Steven Northrup and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Michael Rust, and is a part of the ILP-238 Global Health and Technology course, where students study important issues facing global populations. (photos from 2015 trip)

Students repair broken equipment

According to Dr. Rust, the trip aims to “expose students to a range of global issues such as inequality, poverty, social justice, and health; provide an opportunity for students to consider the impact their own professional careers can have in the area of global health; and enable students to evaluate the role they play as global citizens in all aspects of their lives.”

In healthcare facilities, students will repair broken equipment, or at least diagnose necessary repairs they cannot complete and compile a list of parts that will be needed. They will also formulate project ideas based on the needs they find in the hospitals and clinics, which will be brought back to the University to create project opportunities for both Engineers who went on the trip and students who did not.

Students in the program consist of both Engineering majors and Arts and Sciences majors. “I’m excited to help people in Guatemala and have a positive impact in their communities,” Professional Communications major Kelly Donahoo says.


The students will also experience cultural sights like Mayan ruins, local street markets, and natural hot springs. The city of San Lucas Tolimán is located near Lake Atitlan at the base of  two large volcanos. 

Biomedical Engineer Andrew Aldrich says “I love to experience how different people live their daily lives. It's different from learning about it in a classroom or seeing it on television. I expect to leave Guatemala with a new-found appreciation for different cultures.”

For more information on the University’s study abroad programs click here, or contact Dr. Josie Brown-Rose at