Wednesday, August 4, 2010

FIU Professor, HOPE Volunteer, and Expolorer

Randy Roark just might hold the record among all Project HOPE volunteers for the number of years spent in graduate school. He has acquired five – count them – post graduate degrees. He’s also had the smarts to billet himself in beautiful places with great weather: PhD in nursing (Hawaii); MS Adult NP (San Francisco); MPH Epidemiology (Miami); and MA in Exercise Physiology (Berkley, CA.) His law degree (NYC) does seem to be an outlier, both in subject matter and location, but Randy says he “just thought it would be fun.”

So what’s driving this educational marathon?

“Well, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up,” Randy says sheepishly. “But nursing has been central to everything I’ve done.”

In Indonesia, Randy had a real opportunity to put his nursing skills to use during a 7-day, 6-night MEDCAP in Jailolo, a town near our Ternate stop.

“I expected to see exotic cases, and I did see active TB, malaria, and even an eel bite,” says this first time volunteer. “But the real eye opener was that people here suffer so needlessly from hypertension, diabetes and strokes; diseases that are treatable. It’s really tough to send them on their way.”

Randy now teaches at Florida International University, and the academic year allows him to volunteer for Project HOPE.

“I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, but wondered if I have the mettle to do it. After Jailolo, I’m happy to say that I do. I’ll definitely be doing more medical missions.”

On this mission, Randy is also mentoring two FIU nurse practitioner masters students. He is charged with ensuring they receive appropriate training on the mission.

“Vanessa (Doorasamy) was with me in Jailolo, and she just jumped right in,” says Randy. “Dawn (Horowitz) is so smart and so thorough, but she wanted to feel more confident. I think her trip to Moratai took care of that.”

Randy is several oceans away from his roots in Indiana, where he was the first in his family to graduate college.

“My family calls me a vagabond, but I prefer to think of myself as an explorer. Indonesia is just a first stop.”

Thanks for your interest in Project HOPE -- Kathryn Allen, HOPE Public Affairs Officer

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