South High grad to volunteer in Honduras

September 13, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- A 2007 South Hagerstown High School graduate will be among a group of students traveling to Honduras in January to volunteer at a free medical clinic.

Alex Ray, 20, now a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, will make the trip with the campus chapter of Global Medical Brigades, a national organization that runs health clinics in underserved countries.

The group will work at a clinic in a rural area near the city of Tegucigalpa, Ray said. The students will assist the doctors by filling prescriptions, administering medicines, coordinating the clinic and communicating with patients, he said.

The group originally planned to make the trip in August, but a coup forced the organization to postpone it, Ray said. The trip was rescheduled for January in hopes that the political climate will have calmed down by then, he said.


In the meantime, the students are raising funds for the trip and gathering the medical supplies they will need. They are seeking supply donations from doctors, pharmaceutical companies and medical supply companies, Ray said.

The group needs to take items such as pain relievers, cold medicine, and medicines for hypertension and diabetes, according to a packing list. The group can accept any donated medicine as long as it won't expire before the trip and doesn't contain pseudoephedrine, Ray said.

Antibiotics are in highest demand, with each brigade typically administering 1,500 capsules of amoxicillin each week, he said.

Students are also gearing up mentally for the experience, which will involve adjusting to a hot, humid climate and sleeping in mosquito nets.

"All the amenities we're used to -- electricity, clean, running water -- aren't going to be there," Ray said.

Ray, a cell biology and genetics major, signed up for the Global Medical Brigades trip after reading about it in a biology department newsletter, he said.

"When I read it, it immediately struck me," Ray said. "It's something I always wanted to get involved with."

Ray said he is interested in infectious diseases and immunology, and plans to attend medical school.

He is involved in club swimming on campus, works part time as a lifeguard, and also works part time conducting viral oncology research for the National Cancer Institute, he said.

Ray traces his interest in science to his classes at South Hagerstown High School, particularly his Advanced Placement chemistry class with James Feeser, he said.

"The way he taught the science class that I took with him was really kind of intriguing, and really kind of heightened my interest in science," Ray said.

Want to help?

To donate medicine or supplies to Alex Ray's Global Medical Brigades Group, contact him at

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