Q & A with Matt Leroue
Matt has been involved with the organization in numerous ways–from college student member to trip volunteer, staff members, and now med school student and Timmy advocate at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Read below to learn more about Matt, his experiences, lessons learned from Timmy, and future goals.
Q: How did you get introduced to Timmy Global Health?
A: Two of my best friends, Stacy Romero and Paul Shultz, were my biggest influences. During my junior year of college at the University of Colorado, Paul and Stacy were leaders of Timmy’s chapter at CU. The passion they demonstrated for the organization and its work in Ecuador really got me curious about what this whole Timmy thing was and, ultimately, inspired me to become a Timmy myself. Little did I know how much this organization and its work would come to mean to me.
Q: How many Timmy trips have you gone on?
A: Seven–As a student I went twice to Quito, Ecuador and as a Timmy Global Health employee I went back to Quito once and to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala four times. Through all my trips, I have been lucky enough to travel with every college chapter except for Notre Dame and Davidson, something I hope to change in the future.
Q: What are your other interests outside of Timmy, med school, and global health?
A: Ha…you’re kidding, right?
Q: Why did you want to go into medicine in the first place?
A: Honestly, medicine was somewhat of a calling, but also intriguing because it is so multifaceted. You have the opportunity to work so closely with people to affect positive change, be involved in health care policy, business and be a leader in your community. Medicine, despite the workload and debt, is the ultimate vocation.
Q: Has Timmy influenced the specialty you would like to pursue in medicine?
A: Without a doubt! Timmy has had a tremendous influence on the direction of my medical career, and was a key factor in my decision come to the University of Colorado. The Global Health Track and Center for Global Health will allow me to continue studying international development and provide me the opportunity to work abroad. Timmy and many of our volunteer physicians showed me that, while every specialty can make an impact abroad, certain specialties, like emergency medicine and general surgery, permit you to have more time and a more useful skills set to work internationally.
Q: Tell us about a particularly memorable highlight from your college career and/or time with the CU student chapter.
A: My top two would have to be 1) Drug packing parties, which were fun because of the amount of bonding that occurs over counting ibuprofen, minus the fact that you smelled like vitamins for a week and 2) Univeristy of Colorado’s “Spread the Love” Banquet. Everyone works so hard for this one night and it is never more satisfying to see a banquet hall full of people supporting Timmy Global Health. One of the most important things Timmy does is contribute financially to our international partner organizations to support their mission and help fund long-term solutions to help those we serve. I take so much pride in how far a donation to Timmy Global Health goes toward causing positive change.
Q: What was a highlight from your position as International Programs Coordinator?
A: The people. People who volunteer for Timmy Global Health, students and medical professionals, tend to be some of the most talented, inspirational people I have crossed paths with in my life. I have met some of my best friends through Timmy and have been hard pressed to find another organization where there is such a high concentration of incredible individuals. You are all going to do incredible things in this world and I think we all, in part, have Timmy Global Health to thank for that. Also, the people I have had the opportunity to work with in Guatemala and Ecuador are simply amazing. The Dona Ana’s, Roney’s, Mariaelena’s, and Pablo and Paco’s are the true heroes of what we do, without them our work would fall flat.
Q: What is your favorite role in aTimmy clinic?
A: This is a tough one, but I have to go with pharmacy–but the fluoride station (and playing with riduculously cute kids) being a close second. Pharmacy in my mind is one of the most intense and crucial stations. For eight hours you are swamped with patients, speaking Spanish nonstop, taking the time to explain every medicine in detail, and also calming and worries the patients have about their clinic visit. You are never more exhausted then you are at the end of a day when you have been working pharmacy.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have for a new trip volunteer?
A: Everyone has something they can learn from a Timmy Global Health trip. Allow yourself to fully embrace the experience; the more you invest into it the more you get out of it. There were times I spent too much time thinking about my time in-country as work. But, I found that when I stepped back, took a deep breath and allowed myself to fall back into the experience, the country and people in it were like home.