Lucy Witchell

"I remember in elementary school going to Feed My Starving Children with my class and being so excited when I saw how much of a difference we would make in so many kids' lives. I realized how only a little bit of extra effort can make a huge difference for someone else, and I was pushed in the direction of spending my life in the pursuit of helping others."

Hometown:
Lino Lakes, MN

Educational Background:
University of Wisconsin - Madison, Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology and Psychology

Host Site:
Philadelpha Department of Public Health - Health Center 3

Why did you join NHC?
I wanted to spend my time before graduate school giving back to the community and helping to address barriers to healthcare. I felt doing a service term would be valuable for me in wanting to do this, which is why I chose to join the National Health Corps.

What are your plans after AmeriCorps service?
I'm planning to attend medical school.

Tell us about an employment, service, or research experience that was important to you.
I was a caregiver for Drew*, a quadriplegic engineering PhD student. Drew depended on me for his daily functioning, and I provided all cares including bathing, dressing, feeding, and toileting. I administered many medications on a strict schedule, and performed range of motion exercises each day to prevent muscular atrophy. I cooperated with Drew and his other caregivers to execute his specific routines most effectively to improve his quality of life, and I consulted with other medical professionals to ensure quality care from those who didn’t see Drew as often. Drew's resilient personality made me want to do everything I could to make his life easier, and doing so was very rewarding. Being a caregiver was without question one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Drew taught me to value life’s simplicities, as normalities such as the ability to walk were out of reach some, and I learned having such abilities was a privilege. What amazed me most about Drew was his mindset, as his dream to be an engineer pushed him to overcome all obstacles in his way, including his quadriplegia. Drew epitomized the saying “if there’s a will, there’s a way,” and he made me want more than anything to do all I could to help him find that way to achieve his goals. He often expressed to me that he would be unable to accomplish his dreams without me and his other caregivers, as we established his foundation for him to grow from each day. Drew passed away unexpectedly from pneumonia in October 2015, and though his death impacted me very much, it motivated my continued pursuit of medicine rather than deterring it. The way Drew viewed life was a way that deserved to get to live it, and his death made me realize I wanted to devote my life to helping people with mindsets such as these live life to the fullest extent. Working with Drew truly inspired me to never give up on my own dreams, as if he could chase his despite all odds in the short life he had, there was no reason I couldn’t chase my own.

*indicates changed name

What first sparked your interest in community service?
I remember in elementary school going to Feed My Starving Children with my class and being so excited when I saw how much of a difference we would make in so many kids' lives. I realized how only a little bit of extra effort can make a huge difference for someone else, and I was pushed in the direction of spending my life in the pursuit of helping others.

What about Philadelphia excites you the most?
I've heard Philly has a lot of good food, so I'm really looking forward to checking out the food scene since I absolutely love pretty much all types of food. I've also heard Philly is a great city for running, and I'm excited to explore the ins and outs of the city by doing something I already love to do.

What’s your favorite food?
Tacos and avocados