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Kelsey Hideshima will travel to Nicaragua later this month.

Kelsey Hideshima will travel to Nicaragua later this month.

RICHMOND, Va. – Next week, around the same time you’re at the mall, trying to decide if mom would look good in that pink Snuggie or if your brother really needs that “Dilbert” daily calendar, Kelsey Hideshima will be mulling over questions like, “does this look infected?”

On Dec. 17, Hideshima, a sophomore defender on VCU’s field hockey team, will depart for an eight-day trip to Carazo, Nicaragua, where she’ll help set up a free medical clinic. The San Jose, Calif. native and pre-med student will be traveling with an organization called Global Medical Training (GMT) along with other VCU pre-med, MCV and dental students, as well as a number of doctors. Hideshima and other members of the organization will pay for their own flights and have been busy soliciting donations for the trip in recent months.

The clinic will serve two purposes: To provide free health care to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access in the largely rural country, and to give hands-on field experience to a group of future medical professionals. Hideshima says many of their assessments will revolve around ailments common to agricultural workers in the fields.

Hideshima and her cohorts will work in groups of three and perform physicals for locals seeking health care. Hideshima and her team will draw up possible diagnoses and courses of action, which will be reviewed by the doctors on site.

“I don’t expect to get anything out of it myself. I just want to give as much as I can to them. But I think, going into it, I had the impression that I was going to get some clinical experience, and then also learn something about the history and the way these people live, because I feel like sometimes people get trapped in a bubble where they live,” Hideshima said.

It’s the most recent service-related activity for Hideshima, who also traveled on a mission trip to South Africa to work in an orphanage when she was in high school. There will likely be more community service ventures in her future.

“I think [community service] makes you a more well-rounded person,” she said. “But I don’t think the community is everyone in our backyard. I think we also have a responsibility to the global community.”

If that wasn’t enough, Hideshima also volunteers her time on the MCV campus and mentors a first grader named Dariana at Carver Elementary.

“A lot of kids don’t come to school in general, and a lot of the kids are really excited to see their mentors, so it makes them want to go to school and keeps them motivated and on track.”

Hideshima, meanwhile, is on track academically as well. While currently majoring in biomedical engineering within the pre-med program, she says she envisions herself as an oncologist or working as a cancer researcher.

“It’s one of the only diseases that’s totally non-discriminatory. It doesn’t matter the race, class or socioeconomic background you come from,” she said.

The Global Medical Training group will return from Nicaragua on Christmas Day, and Hideshima says she will fly to San Jose to spend the holidays with her family.