Katelyn Przybyszewski, a fifth-year student in Gannon’s physician assistant program, was pretty busy over the summer. Immediately after graduation, Katelyn took a service trip with campus ministry to Glenmary Farm in Kentucky. For the duration of the trip, the group completed different projects, including yard work, food pantry and interacting with people with intellectual disabilities.

“I enjoyed the service projects and building relationships with the people of Vanceburg, Ky., as well as among our own group of Gannon students,” Katelyn said of the trip.

After the trip, Katelyn went to Valparaíso, Chile for seven weeks to research cutaneous melanoma, a type of skin cancer. At the end of the trip, she presented her findings in a local hospital.

“Returning to Chile was highly rewarding because it allowed me to ‘give back’ to my host country by sharing my medical knowledge, as well as develop my Spanish to a more professional level,” she said. “I gained valuable experience in a public hospital setting seeing patients and attending case study conferences with a neurologist, and I enjoyed spending time with my Chilean friends and host family when I had free time.”

Traveling abroad for any reason can be a wonderful experience and Gannon students have plenty of opportunities to do so. During her time as an undergrad, Katelyn participated in service trips to Detroit, Canada and Guatemala. She also spent more than 400 hours working with kids at Erie’s own Neighborhood Art House.

“This extensive volunteer work challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and to have the courage to do things that I never thought I’d be able to do,” she said.

Katelyn currently works at UPMC Hamot in the emergency department as part of a clinical rotation for the physician assistant program. She said she encourages anyone on the fence about an international service trip to go for it.

“I believe it is important to go on adventures in order to discover who you are, what you want to do with your life, and where you belong in the world,” Katelyn said. “I am so thankful to be studying medicine, a subject that is useful, fascinating and universal, and to be pursuing a profession that has a high job satisfaction.”