Pharmacy students Michelle Yang, left, and Himali Gujrati build a lean-to.

UMES’ Richard A. Henson Honors Program and the School of Pharmacy teamed up during spring break 2022 for an experiential learning trip to the Dominican Republican.

Led by faculty members Dr. Yen Dang (pharmacy) and Dr. Michael Lane (Henson program director), eleven students spent the week of March 19-26 working with the National Environmental School in Jarabacoa. Surrounded by four major rivers in the Central Mountain Range, Jarabacoa in Spanish translates into “land of water resources,” according to the Dominican Republic’s tourism office.

The region is known agriculturally for its strawberries, coffee, pimento and ají pepper crops. Team UMES helped its host school with a variety of tasks, including planting sweet potatoes, gardening, painting garbage cans and building a lean-to.

UMES students also were required to conduct research as a part of receiving support funding from the Richard A. Henson Foundation. Among the project topics: a comparative study of water samples in the Dominican Republic and Princess Anne, exploring beliefs about risks for COVID-19, institutional branding and marketing, and awareness of prostate and cervical cancer risks and screening.

Senior Amal Sulieman Adamu, who graduates next month, called the trip “an eye-opening experience.”

“I have traveled a lot previously but none has influenced me to this extent. I think what made this experience stand out was I didn’t expect much from it,” Adamu said.

“I … thought, ‘I’m going to collect samples for my project and help out in the environmental school.’ In reality, I was able to build unlikely but meaningful relationships with the students from UMES and the National Environmental School and … immerse myself into a different culture” Adamu said.

Trip organizers said the goal was to “provide (students) immersion opportunities to think, reflect and to become exemplary global citizens … to become impactful not only at UMES but in their future communities.”

“It was an amazing trip for all of us,” said Dr. Jocelyn Briddell, the Henson Honors Program’s assistant director.

Students will be presenting their work Thursday, April 28 from 5 – 7pm in the Henson Center ballroom.

(Kneeling L-R) Bertrand Akuche, Himali Gujrati, Elise Johnson & Jumole Akinola.
Doria Wheeler, Amal S. Adamu, Memunatu Conteh, Jessica Collins, Michelle Yang,
Juan the bus driver, Kalin Toogood, Dr. Yen Dang, Jaidyn McCullough,
Dr. Michael Lane & Dr. Jocelyn Briddell.
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