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Jill Suzikida

Public Service Volunteering

UW–Madison graduate Jill Suzikida, BS ‘07, a biology and economics major, spent most of her senior year in Washington D.C. serving as an AmeriCorp volunteer with the National AIDS Fund. As an undergraduate, Jill volunteered at UW Children’s Hospital, served as a biology major peer advisor and organized blood drives with the GiveLife organization. In the fall of 2008, Jill returned to her native Minnesota to attend medical school at the University of Minnesota. Before departing from Madison, she answered questions about her public service experiences.

How have public service experiences enhanced your education or career goals?

Public service is a constant reminder of why you are pursuing a career goal – it makes the hours in the library a little more bearable when you know that one day you can hopefully be in a position to make a bigger difference.

Tell us about your experience in Washington, D.C. What was your role? How did the year inform your career or personal goals?

I work for the National AIDS Fund AmeriCorps program at a non-profit organization that provides meal delivery and nutritional counseling for people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. My role allowed me to do a lot of home visits with our clients, which allowed me to put a face on these diseases and observe how they affect people’s lives outside of a medical setting – the effect on their family, caregivers, mental health, social and work lives. I also learned a lot about their frustrations with access to health care, and challenges obtaining respectful and appropriate care.

You plan to attend medical school. How do you think these experiences will affect your studies and future practice?

The biggest thing has been exposure to a wide-range of people with very different life experiences. I think it makes you a stronger doctor when you can understand where people are coming from, and the factors that influence their decisions, especially when it’s a decision you disagree with.