The University of Iowa

Studying disease in India

February 8th, 2013

Hawkeye golfer DiGrazia spends break learning about diseases

By Aaron Blau for Iowa Now

 Gigi DiGrazia in India
UI women's golfer Gigi DiGrazia (right) spent three weeks in India studying disease.

University of Iowa senior women's golfer Gigi DiGrazia was intrigued by an email she received last August for a class offered over winter break called “Diagnosing Diseases.”

DiGrazia, a health and human physiology major, wants to attend medical school, so this was right up her alley. The class would be worth three credits, offered over three weeks during winter break, and students would be working hands-on with doctors and physicians in diagnosing illnesses and other medical situations.

She became excited as she read the email, until she got to the last paragraph; the class would meet in India.

"After reading the first part of the email I was extremely interested," DiGrazia says. "After reading the last part, I laughed and thought 'wow, that's pretty far away.'"

As the fall semester continued and she heard more about the class, the experience she would receive made her care less about the location.

"I put it aside for a little bit and really didn't know if I wanted to pursue it or not," DiGrazia says. "A gentleman came around to our classes during the fall semester and kept talking about the program. It started to sound more and more interesting."

Finally, DiGrazia decided to take the trip and over the break, was one of several UI students who took the three-week trip to Madurai, India, to gain firsthand medical experience.

"We were working in the hospital every day, shadowing different doctors and learning about different diseases," DiGrazia says. "We were expected to see a case and come up with our own solutions."

This type of experience isn't readily available to U.S. college students at home.

"In the United States, it's really hard to get that much clinical exposure because of health and insurance issues,” she says. “I was able to see things in India that I would never be able to see as a student in the United States."

Read the full article on Iowa Now

The Diagnosing Diseases course featured in this story is part of the International Development: India Winterim program.