Dalit Wolfe (Dalit Gulak) (BAFLL Spanish Studies, 2006)
In 2006 I graduated from UD with a Dean’s Scholar major in Hispanic Culture and Medicine, which focused on Spanish and the sciences. My passion for the Spanish language and culture started in high school with an educational trip to Spain. It continued during a gap year when I lived with families in Costa Rica and Peru, volunteering in a school and hospital. During my time at UD, I was fortunate to have wonderful professors, including Dr. Susan McKenna, who educated me beyond the words of the Spanish language and encouraged me to learn all aspects of history and culture. I spent a semester in the Dominican Republic taking courses at a public health institute, and a winter session in Cuba, where I learned the language and literature of the Cuban culture.
During my time on campus and abroad I was inspired to pursue further studies in health care. I spent the summer after graduation learning from midwives in Nicaragua and watching them do so much with so little technology and few resources. Inspired to learn more, I moved to our nation’s capital and received my degree in nursing. Using my language skills, I volunteered as a doula throughout nursing school for Hispanic women who had no experience navigating the US health-care system and had no one to support them during their deliveries. After living in an El Salvadorian neighborhood and using my Spanish daily, I decided to stay in DC and work at a large public hospital as a labor and delivery nurse. Because of my fluency in Spanish and experience working with various Latin cultures, I had the honor to be the nurse for the Spanish-speaking patients who came to deliver their babies. While I loved working with women at this vulnerable time in their lives, I was eager to learn more about preventing the illnesses and barriers to health that challenged many of my patients and decided to pursue a degree in Public Health.
I received my master’s in Public Health from Boston University in both International and Maternal Child Health. My field work took me to Guatemala for three months. There I worked in rural mountainous villages with local midwives to reduce the extremely high maternal and infant mortality rates. Learning as much from them as I hope I was able to impart, I brought home lessons on how to improve health with few resources but a lot of effort and perseverance.
One of my earliest influences to pursue a career in health care was my grandfather. During his sixty-eight-year career as doctor, he ran a psych unit at an army hospital in Calcutta, India during WWII, had one of the first racially integrated waiting rooms in Cleveland, Ohio, and traveled to Haiti and Guatemala to run free vaccination clinics. When he moved to Maine, after retiring at almost ninety, I knew my next career move had to be back to my home state. I currently reside in Maine with my husband and fun-loving golden doodle and a room often occupied by my grandfather. I am working as the Tuberculosis Control Coordinator, running the State TB program. While I am not able to use my Spanish language skills too often, I do get the opportunity to work with patients from countries around the globe and continually learn about new cultures. I am currently preparing to participate in a medical mission to Guatemala City through the non-profit organization Rotaplast. For two weeks I will be part of a team performing surgeries to repair cleft lips and palates for 130 children. Offering my Spanish language and nursing skills is my small contribution to the big impact that giving these kids new smiles will have on their lives.
My years at UD not only provided me with valuable language skills but also the passion and desire to learn from those around me. I am fortunate to be able to offer something to others, but in every job I take on or team that I am a part of, I yearn to learn more than I can offer myself. Thank you UD for helping to educate and inspire me on this journey that started with a Spanish language class and continues today with a lifelong passion for learning the languages and cultures that surround me. ¡Muchas gracias!