Jefferson Awards honoree organizes medical missions to Central America

February 15, 2012 | Features, UToday
By Nicolette Jett

Undeveloped villages in Central America cannot provide sanitary and technologically advanced health care to their residents and must rely on medical mission volunteers to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases.

Rosaline Cordova posed for a photo with children during one of her medical mission trips to Central America.

Rosaline Cordova, 21, of New Albany, Ohio, organized two successful UT student-run medical mission trips to Costa Rica and Panama and is planning two more.

“The locals in Panama would come to our clinics covered in rashes, parasites with high fevers,” she said. “The locals had nothing, and they were so grateful for the medical help we provided.”

Cordova was recognized as the February Jefferson Awards honoree for her leadership in planning and executing these important medical missions.

Her interest in medical missions was sparked when she attended the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Professional Honors Society National Convention two years ago and observed a presentation from International Service Learning.

The UT senior majoring in chemistry pre-med became an International Service Learning representative for UT in 2010 and quickly began organizing the first medical mission trip to Costa Rica and Panama. A group of seven UT students, including Cordova, spent 13 days from December to January conducting house visits and setting up clinics in rundown villages.

Upon their return, Cordova shared her story with students, faculty and alumni and immediately began organizing another trip to Central America that took place in December 2011.

“The second year Sammy Span and the Center for International Studies and Programs encouraged our mission and gave financial assistance to the 15 students,” said Cordova, who did not attend this mission herself. “The office helped the entire group apply for an educational grant, and everyone received $350 toward trip expenses.”

Currently, Cordova is planning two more medical missions for July and December 2012. Donations are being accepted for vitamins and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, to bring to the villages.

“I am grateful for the hands-on experience I received while in Central America,” Cordova said. “Even if you are not interested in joining one of the medical missions, you can still volunteer and help by participating in fundraisers and collecting donations and supplies for the trip.”

Cordova also is a proud member of the Student Alumni Association, Blue Key, the University Ambassadors and Mortar Board.

She will graduate in May and plans to pursue a master’s degree in biological sciences in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

If you know of an unsung hero who dedicates his or her time to volunteering and community service, be sure to submit a nomination for the Jefferson Awards. You can do so at and at

Click to access the login or register cheese