Elisha Jaeke, a second year student at St. Norbert College, is committed to understanding and working for the health and well-being of all. As a biology and Spanish double major, she hopes to one day work in medicine, advocating for those whose quality of care is jeopardized by language and socioeconomic barriers. Elisha is passionate about fostering community and working closely with under-served populations to amplify their voices and advocate for their needs. She understands that proximity is key, but larger-scale efforts produce lasting change. Therefore, in addition to volunteering at medical facilities, low-income elementary schools, and Hispanic resource centers, she engaged in public health research and policy advocacy efforts. Elisha is also involved in efforts to expand resources and grow the conversation about first generation students on campus, working to address the various challenges they face. The interconnectedness of humanity inspires her, and she is dedicated to listening to those around her; educating herself and others, and ultimately working toward a reality that is more inclusive, equitable, and reflective of the dignity and value of each human being.
Volunteering at a Hispanic resource center throughout high school, I began to understand the complexity of immigration and the importance of advocacy through a human-centric lens. Since then, I have translated legal paperwork to provide notarized plans for undocumented families and worked with the Hispanic Heritage Committee on campus. Appreciating the beauty of language, while acknowledging the isolation it creates, has inspired me to work toward building connections and expanding resources where language barriers result in health disparities. I am currently exploring the relationship of biodiversity and malnutrition for rural populations in the Andes region, and upon returning from my semester in Ecuador, will examine the similar pressures of socio-economic status and language barriers on quality of care in the U.S. Ultimately, I will use this knowledge to advocate for immigrant rights and accessible healthcare on a national scale. Additionally, I will continue to work for first generation students, a group that I identify with, to unravel the intricacies of successfully transitioning to college, studying abroad, and applying to graduate schools - all categories that first generation students are statistically under-represented in, and all things that I am currently doing or plan to do while guiding others along the way.