Crystal Walker: Healing with Compassion
“As a Spanish major, I have had endless opportunities to volunteer and continue my learning outside of the classroom.”
When Crystal Walker ‘11 arrived at Transylvania, she thought she had her future neatly planned out. “As a Spanish major following a pre-med track, I had my sights set on medical school immediately after graduating. But when I discovered the opportunity to travel to Ecuador as part of a medical brigade, my medical school plans took a year off.”
Walker joined a group of physicians, nurses, physical and speech therapists, interpreters, and volunteers heading to Santo Domingo, Ecuador, where Shoulder-to-Shoulder has a full-time medical clinic for the underserved families in the area. The bi-annual brigades sponsored by the University of Kentucky bring specialized medical services to the residents and offer opportunities for medical students and volunteers to develop cultural competency and build relationships with the patients, as well as learn about their own skills and ability to communicate with each other.
The Ecuadorians enthusiastically welcomed the medical brigade into their community by sharing meals and encouraging the visitors to participate in cultural events. Walker was inspired by the gratitude the Santo Domingo residents expressed for the services they offered, and she is eager to find other opportunities to help underserved communities abroad.
After her trip to Ecuador, Walker joined Accipio Language Services as a medical interpreter. “I worked in several hospitals in the Lexington area and was on call in case of an emergency situation that would require a Spanish speaker with medical knowledge to be present.” Walker credits the Medical Spanish class she took at Transylvania for preparing her for both of these experiences.
While at Transylvania, Walker took advantage of several opportunities to volunteer in the Lexington community. She served as a Spanish tutor and interpreter for Lexington's Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, where she was responsible for making the tutoring center a more welcoming place for Spanish-speaking students and their families.
After delaying her initial plans, Walker is now pursuing a degree at the Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. She fully expects that her understanding of Latino language and culture—acquired from both her studies at Transylvania and her travel and experiences since—will better equip her for her career as a compassionate physician.