Going to New Heights with Syracuse

Meet Cassie Cooper ‘20
Health and Exercise Science
West Monroe, NY
High School:
Altmar-Parish-Williamstown High School
Syracuse University Outdoor Club, Commuter Organization Group

Health and Exercise Science has brought a world of opportunity my way. This past semester, I interned at my former high school helping with indoor and outdoor track and I’ve been able to study in the human performance lab on campus. However, my absolute best experience was spending three weeks trekking to the Base Camp of Mount Everest.

Getting there

The trip started off when my flight to JFK got cancelled. We sped down to NYC and got to the airport with 15 minutes to spare. Our first flight was a 14 hour flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi. We were delayed and missed our connecting flight to Kathmandu. So we stayed overnight in Abu Dhabi, which was fantastic.

Once we arrived to Kathmandu, we met with the Calgary, Swedish, and University of Michigan teams who were joining us and took another flight to Lukla – which has one of the world’s shortest runways. Hold on!

The journey to Base Camp

Our trekking days were long as we went up and down dirt paths. All the locals were incredibly fit and would lug housing materials on their back while wearing flip flops. Meanwhile, we were in hiking boots, using poles, and trying to catch our breath as they sprinted past. At night we stopped at lodges to acclimate. On those rest days, we explored the towns, went shopping, and played cards.

It took us about two weeks to trek up to the Base Camp. I was surprised to see snow on the ground in June! As we passed Gorak Shep to Base Camp, we saw a pack of yaks come through – they’d run into you if you didn’t get out of the way! When we arrived to Base Camp, you could see the Khumbu Icefall and there were tons of prayer flags. We all cheered and took dozens of photos. I went down to the glaciers and stood by one – it was massive. To get down to the glaciers, you’d have to slide through the rocks, but the views were incredible.

Taking a class at 17,000 ft.

Every rest day, we had a lecture. Topics ranged from decrease in oxygen pressure at high altitudes, to the role genetics might play in altitude sickness, to muscle fatigue. We also learned a lot about the culture in Nepal. To be able to see and interact with the culture firsthand was life-changing. With this trip, we experienced firsthand what we were learning. With the oxygen pressure difference, it wasn’t just learning about it but also having to deal with it as you hiked.

What’s next?

I initially thought about being an athletic trainer. But after this trip, I’m thinking more about being a paramedic or first responder for outdoor adventurers.

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Discovering Public Health

Meet Ryan Patel ‘19
Public Health, Biology – Pre-Health Track
Manhattan Beach, CA
High School:
Mira Costa High School
University 100, Orientation Leader, University Conduct Board, Forever Orange Student Alumni Council, Homecoming Court, Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, Peer Educator with the Office of Health Promotion, volunteer at Crouse Hospital and Syracuse VA Medical Center

How did you get connected to Public Health?

As soon as I got to Syracuse, I signed up for a million clubs; literally anything that had the word “health” in it. However, one club stood out: the Society for Public Health Educators (SOPHE). I became involved and discovered Public Health through a research opportunity looking at malaria rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Through my Public Health classes, I’ve studied epidemiology, clean water access, fertility and maternity rates, the societal impacts of health access, among other topics.

How has experiential learning been part of your education?

Experiential learning is a key element of Public Health, with several classes requiring an internship component. I’ve had first-hand experiences at Vera House, the Syracuse City School District’s Refugee Assistance program, and the Office of Health Promotion. I’ve also been able to study abroad in South Africa through a Public Health course. With the Refugee Assistance program, I assisted in teaching health literacy to refugees in the North Side of Syracuse.

Why did you decide to pursue Pre-Health?

I knew I wanted to be Pre-Med from a young age. In high school, I took a medical assisting course and fell in love with medicine. I joined the Pre-Health track when I came to Syracuse and have relied heavily on their resources.

What resources are available through the Pre-Health Advising office?

Pre-Health advisors assist with the development of medical school applications and portfolio. We also have a recommendation committee who will read your application and submit a recommendation on your behalf. In addition there are different clubs and organizations that are popular amongst Pre-Health students: Camp Kesem, Medical Brigades, and Syracuse University Ambulance.

Where are you at in the medical school application process now?

Instead of going right into medical school, I’m taking a non-traditional gap year to pursue a master’s in Medical Sciences. Right now I’m relying on my Pre-Health advisor to review my graduate school application materials and be sure I have everything required to apply. After receiving my master’s, my goal is to enter medical school.

Why is Public Health a good option for students who are considering Pre-Health?

It’s out of the ordinary and identifies you as a unique candidate for medical school. Public Health teaches you to think about health holistically. While you’ll still take courses in biology and chemistry, you’re also studying how a person’s community affects their health, nutrition, and lifespan. Public Health prepares you to think of the health outcomes, which is needed in any clinical health career.

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SU (Abroad) Students Give Thanks

A year ago, one of my first published blogs for Syracuse Admissions focused on a seemingly simple question: What are Syracuse students thankful for? This was one of my favorite blogs to write. In the midst of busy college life, it was great to just sit and talk with people about what makes us happy, about the people in our lives who bring us joy. This year, I’m excited to share the 2016, second annual edition of what SU students are thankful for. This year, all of us are abroad and celebrating away from home but still as grateful as ever.

“I’m thankful for another year of life. Another year to grow and experience new things with my friends and family.” — Obi Afriyie, Junior, studying in Dublin, Cultural Foundations of Education and History Major, Member of Student Association, Founder of Syracuse Students Teaching Healthy Habits

“I am so thankful my parents pushed me to move to Italy and travel the world. I’ve realized how great a gift it is to be able to travel and see the world at 18 and I’m so happy I got that chance.”– Jessica Hume, Freshman, Discovery Florence

“I’m thankful for all the opportunities SU provides to its students. Whether it’s class, clubs, communities, or the chance to meet people different than you, I think it’s a university with truly something for everyone.”– Joey Dawson, Junior, studying in Strasbourg, Policy Studies and Information Management Major, Member of SU Kumquat and the Academic Integrity Student Panel

“Since being abroad I’ve realized the things I’m most thankful for. I’m most thankful for my family and friends because their support and love is what motivates and encourages me to do my best. I’m also thankful for the small experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to have and share with those I love. I will have these moments to cherish for the rest of my life and they have helped to shape who I am today.”– Alex Dorn, Junior, studying in Florence, Public Relations Major and Political Science Minor, Member of Public Relations Student Society of America and Hill Communications


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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Embracing Abroad


I am currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy, with the Syracuse University Abroad program. This is my first trip outside of the United States — I’ve never even been to Canada. As this is my first time leaving the country, I naturally want to do anything and everything. When I was planning my weekend trips over the summer, I had every weekend booked. I wanted to visit all of the places I had only seen in movies or read about it books. In my mind, this was my once-in-a-lifetime experience, my chance to see the world.

When I got to Florence, the reality of time sunk in. Sure, three months sounds like a long time, but trying to squeeze in everything I wanted to do was impossible. On top of that, most of my friends who I am traveling with have already been to Europe, so some of the top places I wanted to go were places that they had already seen. I had a very specific vision of what I wanted my abroad experience to be, and when it didn’t go exactly as planned, I started obsessing about it. For most of September and the beginning of October, I was constantly online searching for places to travel to, trying to find the cheapest flights, texting friends trying to convince them to travel with me for the fourth weekend in a row.

A few days ago, I was sitting in a piazza near the SU Florence campus, using an app on my phone to search cheap flights. I realized I had been sitting there for 45 minutes, completely oblivious to everything going on around me. I did not see the beautiful street art two feet away from me, or the man playing the violin in the center of the piazza, or the brilliant hues of yellow and red in the changing leaves. When I looked up and took it all in, it hit me: I was spending so much time obsessing about seeing everything that I wasn’t really seeing anything.

I’ve been trying too hard to make this experience perfect. Studying abroad is an opportunity to discover your passions, see new things, and embrace cultures different from your own. It’s not about getting the most stamps on your passport. It’s about seeing what you can, living in the moment, and stepping out of your comfort zone. I closed most of those tabs a few days ago. I’m ready to see where the rest of the semester takes me, and hopefully I will be more open to the beauty right in front of me.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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Abroad for a Cause

Caitlin Grimm: bottom row, far right

Over winter break, Caitlin Grimm, a Syracuse sophomore, traveled to Honduras to volunteer with other students as part of the Global Medical Brigade. I sat down with Cait to talk about her unique experience.

What is your major/ dream job?

I am a Biology major, Chemistry minor and IT minor. When it comes to my dream job, I have a few different levels of dream job–my “within reach” dream job, my “a bit of a stretch” dream job, and my “reach for the stars” dream job. My “within reach” dream job is to be a clinical pharmacist (a pharmacist in a hospital setting). I love working with people, and so this setting would allow me to meet and help more people than if I worked in a retail pharmacy. My “a bit of a stretch” dream job would involve me going back to school to get my MBA, then working in pharmaceutical administration.  My “reach for the stars” dream job involves me starting my own company that works in health care reform.

How did you find out about this trip and what inspired you to go?

I found out about this trip through friends of mine who had gone on trips with the Global Medical Brigade organization before. One of those friends has since graduated, and now actually works for Global Medical Brigades in Nicaragua. I was inspired to go because of the incredible stories I had heard from them, but also because, I’ve always wanted to bring medical assistance to third-world countries, and so this was the perfect opportunity to start getting involved.

What were you most excited about and what were you most nervous about?

I was most excited about meeting the members of the community. I’ve never been to another country before (except Canada), so I was really excited to immerse myself in a completely different culture. I was nervous about a few things, mainly about speaking the language. I took Spanish in high school, but it had been so long since I’d spoken it that I wasn’t sure how well I’d remember.

Have you gone abroad before/ planning on studying abroad? How was this experience different that a typical study abroad trip?

Unfortunately, I haven’t studied abroad. However, I’ve had many friends who have, and I can tell you that an experience like mine is very different from studying abroad. First of all, it’s much shorter (one week compared to a whole semester). The experiences are very different because you don’t get to do as much on a trip like mine. The most significant difference though is the pure nature of the trips. Studying abroad is an amazing experience, but it’s very tourism-based. My experience was about as non-touristy as you can get, considering we were working in remote villages in the mountains of Honduras. It’s also a trip that eventually ends up helping and affecting so many people in the communities we worked in. I don’t mean to be cliche, but the feeling that comes with helping others is completely incomparable to anything else, and it is what made the trip so special.

What was something that surprised or intrigued you about Honduran culture?

The Honduran culture is so incredibly different from American culture in that almost everything I experienced in Honduras surprised me in one way or another. For example, it is not customary in Honduran culture to brush your teeth. This might not sound like a huge deal, but it actually causes major health problems. One of the main exports of Honduras is sugar cane, so all food containing sugar in Honduras contains pure cane sugar. This leads to the rapid development of cavities, and without dentists or teeth-brushing habits, untreated cavities can lead to infection and even death if the infection spreads through the body. Finding out things like this really opened my eyes and inspired me to want to continue working in communities like this for the rest of my life.

What is your favorite memory from the trip?

My favorite memory from the trip was working in a station called “Charla” in the medical clinics we set up. We worked with the children after they went  to the medical and dental stations and taught them healthy habits, like the importance of a balanced diet or how to brush their teeth. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but working with the children was so unbelievably heart-warming, and seeing the looks on their faces when we gave them their first tooth-brushes was something I’ll never forget. Most of these children don’t have anything to call their own, and their hugs of appreciation made the whole trip worth it. But even more rewarding than all of that was knowing that what we taught them would have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. This made me feel like we had left our mark on the community and that we would continue to influence these people’s lives, even after we were gone.

Do you have any suggestions for students who want to do a service trip?

I could talk for hours about service trips, but here are my top 3 suggestions:

  • Make sure you go on a trip with a reputable organization. There are many credible organizations you can go through, and there are multiple groups at Syracuse that organize student trips, but I have nothing but amazing things to say about the Global Medical Brigades organization that I went through. The local chapter at Syracuse is run by really incredible people and globally they are a very well-respected.  
  • Know all of your options for fundraising. Financing a trip like this can be a burden for some, but there are many ways to raise money and make the cost much more manageable. There are multiple options when it comes to fundraising, but I chose to go through a site called “empowered.org”, which works directly with the Global Medical Brigade.  I sent out the link to my page to all of my friends and family around Christmas and asked for donations in lieu of gifts.
  • Make sure you have medicine just in case. The one thing I neglected to bring with me that I wish I had was cold medicine. Because of the drastic change in climate between New York in the winter and Honduras, I ended up feeling under the weather for a few days, and that was the last thing I wanted to be worrying about while on such an amazing adventure.

Three words to describe your experience?

Inspiring, fulfilling, joyful.


Samantha Trombley ’18, is public relations and policy studies major. She is originally from Franklin, CT. Sam is a member of Hill Communications, the on-campus public relations firm. She is also a member of the Girl Code Movement, the women’s club lacrosse team, and the Kappa Alpha Theta women’s fraternity. In her free time she enjoys hiking, volunteering, traveling, and spending time with friends. More blogs from Samantha Trombley.

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