Nethmi Ediriweera, now a sophomore at Ursinus College, came to the U.S. in 2016 at the age of 13. Since her family was uninsured at the time, they relied on a free clinic to provide healthcare, medical exams, and vaccines so that she and her brother could start school.
The experience left a lasting impact on Nethmi. Despite speaking minimal English at the time, she remembers how welcoming and kind the doctors and nurses were. As a result, she is now pursuing a course of study in Health and Society, with minors in International Relations and Sociology, to “give back” in the healthcare field through public health and global health administration. Her goal is to help those in need of healthcare locally or globally - which led her to spend a semester volunteering at The Clinic through a partnership program with Ursinus.
Volunteering here aligned with her dream to help those most vulnerable, as The Clinic provides healthcare to underserved individuals. “Although these individuals may appear to be uninsured from an outsider's perspective, their lives are filled with vulnerability and hopelessness,” Nethmi said. Her time working the front desk here showed her how “The Clinic plays a crucial role in helping these individuals and providing them with the healthcare they desperately need.”
While volunteering, Nethmi witnessed the compassionate care offered by staff and volunteers and their genuine interest in the well-being of patients. Interpreters bridge the language barrier and ensure effective communication between patient and doctor, a benefit Nethmi understand firsthand.
“The dedication I’ve seen has inspired me to pursue a career in providing healthcare to others,” Nethmi said. “Having been in the shoes of the patients myself, I understand and appreciate the gratitude they express.”