Medical Ambitions Turn Into Quest to Improve Health Policy, Serve Others
October 18, 2008 – When Roland Dimaya (NHS’09) set foot on campus, the Los Angeles native knew he had found the place to begin his undergraduate research and studies toward a career in health and medicine.
As he awaits his graduation date on May 16, he still has plans for medical school, but he says his undergraduate experience has broadened his options. In the fall, Dimaya will pursue his master’s degree at the Yale School of Public Health.
“My research and academic interests are an intersection of nursing, health policy, international health and human science,” says the human science major.
And he has been able to blend those interests together through undergraduate research at Georgetown and beyond.
Achievements in Undergraduate Research
Last summer, Dimaya traveled to the Philippines to study the effects of nursing migration on the country’s health care system.
With a national nursing shortage looming in the United States, many recruiting agencies have turned to foreign countries to replenish the country’s workforce. In turn, the recruitment has prompted a significant drain on global health systems.
“I felt that the only way to examine the problem was to be there [and research it] firsthand,” he says.
During his research abroad, the student held focus groups with nursing students and professors. He conducted site visits to regional and private hospitals. He also met with public health professionals and government representatives.
Aside from his work abroad in the Philippines, Dimaya also pursues scientific research at Georgetown University Medical Center as part of the human science honors program.
Dimaya has studied language function and Tourette’s syndrome in the lab of neuroscience professor Michael Ullman for his honors thesis.
He also has participated all four years in the university’s annual Undergraduate Research Conference – acting as planning committee chair or co-chair for the last two years.
The conference allows undergraduate students to track their development as researchers.
“In all research, there is this continuum that exists of being a novice to an expert,” Dimaya says. “As research novices, we rarely get the opportunity to exhibit what we already know or have learned.”
Getting Stuck on GUMSHOE
Through the Georgetown University Math and Science Hands-On Enrichment (GUMSHOE) program, Dimaya uses his leadership skills to tutor D.C. high school students in math and science.
The graduating senior launched the program, which now includes 80 undergraduate tutors who work with Coolidge Senior High School, H.D. Woodson High School, Georgetown’s Meyers Institute for College Preparation and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center Spark!Lab.
Dimaya launched GUMSHOE with fellow graduating senior Jonathan Brower (C’09), a biochemistry major in Georgetown College and the help of Suzanne Tarlov, associate director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service.
“A lot of people quote [Mahatma] Gandhi, ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ “ he says. “I didn’t realize how I could embody that quote until I reflected on my time here at Georgetown."