November, 7th 2023
By Jonathan Frank
Seth Tolbert, a senior biology major from Cookeville; and Sarah Beshara, a junior biochemistry and microbiology major from La Vergne, spent two-to-three weeks abroad immersing themselves in Italian culture and completing clinical rotations at some of Italy’s best hospitals through the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Program.
Tolbert, who plans to enroll in dental school after completing his undergraduate studies, recalled being able to see sights like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Roman Forum. Still, he said the best part of the experience was being able to bond with his peers.
Beshara, who also plans to enter dentistry, said that the fellowship gave her the opportunity to assist with an oral surgery.
“The entire time, I could only think of how much pain relief the patient would feel after they healed and how, one day, my job would be to provide that kind of relief,” said Beshara. “I will truly never forget this.”
She adds that study abroad programs are among the many opportunities at Tech that set it apart – another being the faculty in the chemistry department.
“They are welcoming, student-centered and willing to let students join their research projects as early as freshman year,” added Beshara.
Seth and Sarah completed the Pre-Health Program
Rome & Genoa, Italy
- 20+ clinical shadowing hours per week
- Discover 4+ different specialties
- See how healthcare is practiced IRL
- 24-hour on-site support
In describing the program’s value, Tolbert states: “The Doctor’s In Italy program is not only a great way for students to immerse themselves in a different culture, but it also serves as a way for students to discover or reassure their passion in medicine”.
“I have always thought I wanted to work in the medical field, but I never had an experience that fueled that passion. When I watched one of the dentists help relieve a woman who was experiencing immense pain in her mouth, I knew in that moment I wanted to help people in the same way he just did right in front of me.”
“The most rewarding parts of my trip were the memories and friendships I made within the program,” said Tolbert. “Several of the students came from different backgrounds and parts of the country, and getting to bond over our passion for medicine was something I’ll never let go of.”
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While the Tech students who traveled to Italy all say they came away with meaningful learning experiences and lifelong memories, Nadia Neytcheva, CEO and co-founder of the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Program, adds that the program benefited from Tech’s students, too.
“Jaycie, Seth, Sarah and Emma performed their duties with excellence during their time in our fellowship program. They will make outstanding healthcare professionals and will continue to represent Tennessee Tech well,” said Neytcheva. “We value our partnership with Tennessee Tech and know we can count on the university to send us hardworking, dedicated students who are eager to learn and grow their understanding of other cultures.”
In the spotlight
Get to know the Doctors in Italy Fellowship Alumni