Role of a Lifetime
Health and human sciences graduate Lacey Marie Smith is the proud recipient of an esteemed Mitchell Scholarship from the US-Ireland Alliance to study immunology and global health at Maynooth University in Ireland next year. Lacey is spending this year as a Global Health Fellow in Thomassique, Haiti, acting as a medical and administrative assistant for a clinic that attends to the needs of six outlying villages in the area.
Among her duties, Lacey acts as a liaison between the clinic and community, providing birthing assistance, water purification support, training locals, and trying to help the area develop a sustainable economy with little dependence on foreign aid.
“In order to be a successful physician in the future, emotionally and professionally, I want to understand the level of poverty and economic and medical disparity that happens outside the world I inhabit,” the Newberry Park, Calif. native said.
Thus far, Lacey has found the experience to be challenging but incredibly fulfilling, and is especially enjoying familiarizing herself with a new culture.
When originally searching for colleges, Lacey says she was drawn to LMU for its Jesuit values and the research opportunities available to undergraduate students.
“The level of personal involvement I received at LMU would not have been possible at a larger university,” Lacey said. Not only did Lacey get the chance to take part in heart-rate variability research in post-treatment cancer patients, but she also journeyed to Thailand to research water quality and purification systems.
Lacey was also able to channel her passion for acting through the LMU theatre scene. She even got the chance to combine her two areas of interests, medicine and theatre, in her senior thesis research paper, which focused on Opioid pharmacology in relation to character development for the theatre.
“Where’s the intersection of healthcare and theatre?” Lacey said. “Empathy. I think acting has greatly assisted me in practicing empathy.”
Additionally, Lacey worked as an EMT for LMU EMS, volunteered as a clinic assistant at the Venice Family Clinic, was on the Seaver Dean’s Advisory Board, and is a member of the Sigma Zi research society, as well as the Jesuit Honors Society Alpha Sigma Nu.
Upon returning from Haiti next July, Lacey hopes to settle in New York City and pursue acting while applying to medical school. As for what advice she might have for incoming Lions…?
“I feel like LMU is a place in which, if you want, you can play big,” she said, “pursue science and theatre, chase professors down and have real conversations… it doesn’t hand opportunity to you, but they are there.”