Junior preprofessional major serves some of the world's most needy

Author: Gene Stowe

Mary White

Mary White
Mary White

Dr. Patricia Curtin White, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at Notre Dame in 1980 and went on to become a medical doctor, has volunteered with the Notre Dame Haiti Program for many years and recruited her family to join the trips in support of a mobile medical service to help Haitians in remote villages. Her daughter, Mary White, a junior science preprofessional and psychology major with a minor in poverty studies, went on her first trip when she was in high school and returned in the summer of 2014. Her brother Joseph and sister Ann returned with their mother last summer, and two cousins have made the trip. Patricia, Mary, and Joseph gave a presentation about the program to a group of Notre Dame medical alumni on Sept. 5 in the Jordan Hall of Science.

Mary White in Haiti

Mary White, who plans to attend medical school, said she volunteered in the pharmacy and helped collect vital signs and medical histories from villagers who visit the clinic. “Amidst the shouting voices, the smell of the trash-filled streets, and the heat of bodies surrounding me, I realized nothing I had ever needed was comparable to the needs of the Haitian people,” she wrote after her first trip. “But it was not the medical experience that impacted me the most; it was the experience with the Haitian people. The Haitian people taught me to use my gifts and talents for the ministry of others.”

Dr. Patricia Curtain White
Dr. Patricia Curtin White

Dr. Patricia Curtin White conducted checkup and wrote prescriptions for people, including those who suffer chronic ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The team of three doctors, one nurse, and seven students cared for more than 500 people during a week. A local nurse maintains contact with the patients to ensure the benefits are maintained. “We were actually making a change,” Mary White says. “There’s sustainable progress going on.”