Caroline Maltese, a junior majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology, is a student leader and advocate who is passionate about confronting health disparities in both urban and rural settings. Caroline volunteers with University Hospital’s “Rainbow Connects” program, which seeks to allocate social services and ensure quality patient care to under-served populations in Cleveland. This spring, Caroline will lead an immersion trip group to Appalachia to explore how historical marginalization results in systemic inequities in areas such as health and education. Through her leadership with John Carroll University’s Center for Service and Social Action, Caroline helps other students understand root causes of social problems and challenges them to discern and act upon structural injustice. She is a confident facilitator, appreciative of diverse experiences and worldviews, and, as an aspiring physician, a tireless advocate for equitable health care and social service access for all.
Although I volunteered in my hometown, I had not developed significant cultural competence or experienced much community-engaged learning until I started my educational career at John Carroll.
I began to search for opportunities to better understand the diversity of the human experience. I worked with differently-abled students at a special education elementary school, middle school students living in intergenerational housing complexes, immigrants and refugees at a local international academy, families facing extreme poverty in Ecuador, and pediatric patients and their families lacking social resources at a nearby hospital. In my efforts to gain cultural competence, I developed social skills and behaviors around diversity, gained the ability to advocate for others, and increased my self-awareness.
These experiences have inspired me to develop greater civic engagement in my own community. I currently serve on the Student Leadership Team for the Center for Service and Social Action where I lead trainings that develop student leadership in service. Additionally, I am leading a group of students to Appalachia to learn from those of a different culture and advocate for justice.
I hope to continue to rectify injustice through a career in medicine to ensure that all people achieve social, mental, and physical well-being.