Medical student makes world travel, service part of education

Melanie Taylor wasn't content to merely study medicine. She took her studies to some of the most remote corners of the world.

Taylor, who graduated from the School of Medicine, engaged in several international health projects during her four years of study. Even as early as the summer between her first and second years of medical school, Taylor volunteered her services in assisting malaria patients and pediatric patients in underserved areas of Cameroon, West Africa.

During her second year, Taylor traveled to India to work in a leprosy hospital. Guatemala was the next target: during her third year, Taylor assisted Remote Area Medical, a team of physicians who travel to developing countries to provide primary health care. A project on lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic disease that causes elephantitis, led her to Haiti through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Taylor recently got back from Tanzania, where she worked with The Carter Center in studying the relationship between onchocerciasis, commonly known as "river blindness," and epilepsy.

"The most rewarding thing about traveling as a medical student is the realization that even as one person, you have opportunities to make a huge difference in people's lives," Taylor said. "You don't always get that feeling when you work as a physician."

Taylor, who was elected to Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities this year, also has served as vice president of the Emory student chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Following graduation, Taylor plans to specialize in infectious diseases and will spend a three-year residency at the University of Washington in Seattle. Afterwards, she hopes to pursue a two-year program at the CDC in the Epidemic Intelligence Service. Taylor's long-term plans include pursuing a master's degree in public health or working for an organization such as the World Health Organization or The Carter Center.

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