Redefining Age on Creating Impact: Amplifying the Importance of Health Literacy

January 31, 2022

Aliza Lopez (she/her/hers) is a high school student from New Jersey with an affinity for the medical field and sociological relations. She is particularly interested in biopsychology, cognitive neuroscience, genetics, biostatistical analysis, and gender & sex distinctions in health. With her liking for a wide range of these specialties, Aliza’s interest in working with all social groups is also integrated with her involvement in STEM; this aligns with her aim of becoming a pediatric surgeon or medical technology entrepreneur. Her favorite scientific spheres are neuroscience and biochemistry, and Aliza hopes to attend Columbia University (majoring in Neuroscience & Behavior and Sociology). She also loves to conduct interdisciplinary field research and present about various phenomena in science — along with being part of other organizations and companies to further advocate for generational issues, mental health, bridging educational disparities, diversity / equity / inclusion (DEI), and SDG efforts.

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Deeply rooted from a young age, the medical environment encompassed everything that I found fascinating in STEAM — a natural affinity for numerous scientific fields, whether abstract or in bodily form. At my earliest thought, how could a child’s visions be the embodiment of naivety, despite setting little to no limitations for the possibilities that lie within?

I could faintly recall moments where I further engraved my health interests with my model doctor’s kit, the array of mock-stethoscopes, bandages, thermometers, and other tools whose names were beyond the incoherent pronunciation of a then-five-year-old.

Fast forward eleven years later, where my postsecondary pursuits are even more defined today; my medical passion was incrementally paved into its full-fledged form — from the mere thought, to encyclopedias about the human body, taking courses in the cognitive sciences, enrolling in college-level coursework, to developing what I’ve coined as the product of knowledge and my other creative abilities. Perhaps I was a student social entrepreneur now and an (aspiring!) pediatric neurosurgeon later, still with a love for the field regardless of what I served in.

Strides later, I co-founded Medicine Encompassed, a 501(c)(3) organization whose main objective is to promote awareness and increase accessibility for prospective STEAM / medical professionals through various mediums — regardless of background. With our nonprofit and platform expanding globally (and still standing at this same rate of growth today), our reach of hundreds of thousands of like-minded students — who reciprocated the same interests, inquisitive minds, and aspirations as myself — creates a secure sphere for everyone to network. As a result, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) values have been strongly prioritized in our workspaces; we’ve recognized that a diverse arrangement of skills in our recruits, as well as our populations and areas impacted, are important in our advancing workforce.

In a community of 1,500+ students upward and 1,000,000+ overall impressions across the globe, the pipeline of our organization’s management isn’t only an independent effort. Consistently shoulder to shoulder, my co-founder Gael and I have worked around the clock to bring Medicine Encompassed’s services to fruition, ultimately bringing about the success it has gained to date. As we both like to state, “two heads are better than one,” and our accelerated ventures are truly a testament to this fact. We’ve been your standard dynamic duo in various innovation and business competitions, a team in other notable research projects, and collaboration in our respective areas of expertise.

Many dovetailing qualities went into its development: distinct branding, marketing, outreach, professionalism, copywriting, proper networks, an appeal to students internationally, passions, concrete visions, and of course, a perpetual desire to deepen our medical interests. In the periods that we’ve gradually pushed our efforts off the ground, Medicine Encompassed evolved from five medical committees (of which each committee creates resources and informational material relating to its respective field) to presently having 30+ initiatives in peer and professional assistance.

Suggested by our organization’s name, we try to utilize as many characteristics that medicine encompasses, whether it be through our members’ skills or our initiatives and services themselves. With our reach in 40+ countries and 45+ states, we’ve established Medicine Encompassed’s STEAM-based curricula for our 18+ medical committees (covering content from neurology, cardiology, pediatrics, pathology, etc.), an international mentorship program, a collaboration with the Harvard Pre-Medical Society, published over 200 resources on our website and accessible publication, donated hundreds of dollars to fund patients’ surgeries with one of our partners (Sparkling Hearts Foundation), launched The Astrocyte Initiative for mental health advocacy, and more among our other endeavors and prospective plans.

Out of our services, Project Cultivation — our global presentation initiative — is one of our most notable, impactful projects that we’ve executed. With a new theme in STEAM, medicine, and general well-being each month, we tie these topics to each of our medical committees’ respective fields and systems; we aim to demonstrate the relevance of matters in everyday scales. From staying up in the middle of the night to accommodate our audience’s time zone differences, to meeting cold emailing quotas, to arranging each committee’s contribution for our presentation, Project Cultivation played an instrumental role in having all-hands-on-deck. Its success was dependent on the productivity of our Committee Leaders, board directors, and our action items. We’ve presented to schools in New York, Mexico, the Philippines, etc. having extensive speaking engagements for large student audiences to further immerse themselves in the wide applications of the health sciences. It’s the ultimate peak of interdisciplinary education, showing all angles of medicine’s nature.

It’s easily agreeable that despite our age or level, we’re at the forefront of marking global change in our communities. As a proponent of medical and educational equity, I apply this notion to any area where my aims and diversified skills are appropriate.

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