The caregiver: Tiffany Neach
During her time in Honduras, no phrase held more worth to Tiffany Neach than ‘Qu es tu problema?’
‘What is your problem?’
Those four simple words broke down a language barrier that separated Neach and the individuals who needed medical care.
Stationed at a local school hours away from a big city, Neach spent a week this Winter Break shadowing and aiding doctors in small villages. With the help of a translator, Neach listened to locals’ medical problems. Then, she immediately conducted check-in procedures like one’s blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.
Neach, a junior exercise science and biology dual major, was one of 10 Syracuse University students chosen to volunteer for the Honduras Medical Brigade. The locals could only get to the city for medical attention by riding for hours on horses and donkeys. Sickness was prominent due to poor water supply. Those who drank it fell ill from parasites, and those who didn’t suffered from severe dehydration.
Neach, who thrives in hands-on environments, applied her classroom and extracurricular experiences to combat both problems.
‘I love taking care of people,’ she paused and laughed. ‘And blood, which is weird.’ Nothing fazes her, not even the time she observed six rotting teeth pulled from an older gentleman without Novocain.
She wanted to be part of the medical field since a young age, even if her dream ambitions constantly changed. Although she once saw herself as a veterinarian or an ob-gyn,she now decisively pictures herself at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University pursuing a path for trauma.
Throughout her three years volunteering at Upstate Medical University, she frequently witnessed trauma cases.
She recalls one overnight shift last year during the horrendous winter. At about 2 a.m., a woman came into the hospital after a snowplow hit her. Her whole skull was cracked open and brain matter was everywhere. Another instance, a woman had flesh-eating bacteria on her foot caused by Type 1 diabetes and doctors had to amputate.
These situations helped her realize that one day she wanted to aid people, just like them.She currently serves as a research assistant at the emergency room, helping get consent from patients to participate in experiments, and aids the pharmacy with routine duties like labeling.
‘They’re so appreciative of the doctors,’ she said. ‘It just makes your day when you help someone.’
One day, that might be her. But for now, she recently stood within the hospital to dissect donated human bodies for Cadaver Day. The event, a program through Shadows of Health, allows students to connect to their medicine roots. Before the opportunity, she had only dissected a fetal pig in high school.
Although her activities showcase it, her path of medicine may not seem so obvious because her home college is the School of Education.
‘When people ask me, ‘What school are you in?’ and I say, ‘School of Education,’ they immediately think education majors,’ Neach said with a sigh.
Within the walls of the School of Education, there are many opportunities for physical trainers and coaches. It hosts many science classes focusing on anatomy and diseases – classes all applicable to individuals interested in medicine. And it gives Neach a fallback option to become a biology teacher.
Neach came to SU from the small town of Saratoga, two hours away from campus. Graduating with 200 kids, she craved a bigger school environment, though she worried that a larger campus meant she wouldn’t be able to personally connect with students. However, she quickly found people with similar interests. And Neach isn’t shy.
‘I’m a big social butterfly, that’s always how I’ve been,’ Neach said with a large smile.
During her freshman year, Neach noticed a floormate from Day Hall sitting in a little caf up on Mount Olympus. He was shy, but she struck up a conversation. He soon became one of her closest friends.
Melissa Tobin, Neach’s academic adviser, describes Neach as outgoing.
‘She seizes every opportunity to gain knowledge and further her education in and outside of the classroom,’ Tobin said.
Neach calls it paying it forward. She places herself in others’ shoes, whether they are her patients or women she taught nutrition to at a local shelter, and realizes if the tables were turned, she would want someone to help her. She is also a part of Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity that requires about 27 hours of community service.
Although she juggles her time as a full-time student, a member in both APO and Tri Beta, an honors fraternity, she remains dedicated to working in the medical field. In the end, all of these activities cohesively define her college experience.
‘Sometimes it is really stressful, but in the long term it’s so worth it,’ she said. ‘I feel like if I didn’t do it all, I wouldn’t appreciate everything here.’
Contact Colleen: email@example.com
Thomas Wolfe is leaving his position as senior vice president and dean of student affairs to become the new president of Iliff School of Theology… Read more »
UPDATED: MAY 15, 4:35 p.m. Syracuse University students will soon see new living options in downtown Syracuse, after a new construction company revamps a vacant… Read more »
THEY'RE BACK: Syracuse pulls off furious comeback win against Yale to return to final four after longest absence since 1979
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Brian Megill sprinted over to Dominic Lamolinara and catapulted into his arms. The game was over. The unthinkable was no longer… Read more »