Brendan DeCenso is a second-year medical student in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. Having taken six years between his undergraduate and medical school, Brendan is what people would call a non-traditional student. After earning his undergraduate in public health and global health at the University of Washington – Seattle, Brendan worked in epidemiological research, primarily related to HIV. From his undergraduate and his work in research, Brendan saw frustrating inequalities among countries related to HIV. These same global inequalities have motivated Brendan to aspire to practice medicine internationally. In order to test his ability to work internationally, Brendan organized a project for himself in Lima, Peru for the summer. In Peru, Brendan analyzed data sets for his project, Impact of condom use, knowledge of symptoms, and care-seeking behaviors on HIV and STI prevalence amongst clients of female sex workers in Peru. While working in Lima, Brendan primarily analyzed in an office at a university. He welcomed the opportunity to learn and adapt to a different office culture and he was able to work with a sense of urgency while in country. Brendan appreciated working very efficiently yet still maintain people as a priority in Peruvian office culture. Although English was primarily spoken in the office, working in Peru also allowed Brendan to improve his Spanish while analyzing the data sets in the language.
Brendan was able to make some time to explore the diverse climates and landscapes in Peru, making memories hiking the Andes and exploring the sand dunes. He was even able to experience the diversity of food. Pictured is Brendan trying coy, the Peruvian delicacy of guinea pig. Brendan observed that the dish is prepared differently in each town and he enjoyed the fried coy he ate.
In Fall 2017, Brendan spoke at an information session for first year medical students, who are a part of a Global Health Interest Group in the School of Medicine. Brendan emphasized the Center for Global Health Travel Scholarships in his talk, stating that he would not have been able to have the experience he had without the aid. “Pittsburgh is a great city,“ said Brendan. “But take opportunities to go work elsewhere – it will change you for the better.”