Delegates of the Youth Assembly convene twice each year and are challenged to energize young people to tackle global and national challenges head on. Some of the leading voices in these efforts are 20 Youth Assembly Ambassadors from around the world who have demonstrated leadership in their school or community as well as a commitment to youth empowerment and sustainable development goals.
Ms. Rebakaone Bowe, a year three medical student at St. George’s University, was selected from a vast applicant pool to serve as an Ambassador for the Assembly’s “Empowering Youth for Global Development” conference on the campus of New York University in February. She and her cohorts hope to address issues that arise as a byproduct of age discrimination, underrepresentation, lack of resources, or unemployment.
At February’s Assembly, Ms. Bowe will focus her attention on global health, quality education, and partnerships to work toward these goals.
“The 23rd session will be my first time bringing a delegation to the Youth Assembly. I have been working to increase the participation of youth from different countries and currently have nominees from countries such as Botswana, Brazil, South Africa, Antigua and Barbuda, and the US,” Ms. Bowe said. “I look forward to sharing this experience with my delegation and empowering them to become global leaders. This time, attending the Youth Assembly will not only benefit me and my delegates but every individual in our respective communities who is yearning to see a positive change as we strive for sustainable development.”
“As medical students and future physicians, it’s important that we’re all well equipped with the knowledge we need in the world we live in,” she added. “With medicine, we can focus on one thing, but the world’s always changing, and platforms such as the Youth Assembly allow us to see the bigger picture.”
Lending a Helping Hand
Ms. Bowe was thrilled and honored to have been selected as an Ambassador, in part because the environment in which she grew up—Botswana, where she said that humanitarianism is instilled in its citizens from a young age.
“Within our family, our church, and our community, we learned that we have to be humble—to always share what you have and to give a lending hand wherever you can,” she said.
She was involved in community service projects in high school, and took it a step further by working with representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an organization dedicated to aiding those who have sought asylum and safety outside of their home country, providing such assistance as clean water, sanitation, and health care. Ms. Bowe spearheaded a project in which volunteers interacted with youth in a refugee camp in Dukwi, Botswana.
“They felt very isolated,” she said. “Growing up, I didn’t even know that we had refugees in our country. To see it firsthand gave me a new perspective and has pushed me to dig more into humanitarianism.”
That included beginning a path toward a career in medicine. Ms. Bowe learned about St. George’s University from her cousin, Thandi Milton, MD SGU ’13, who is now practicing in Botswana after a positive experience in her four years at SGU. With outstanding grades and A-level marks, Ms. Bowe was offered and accepted a scholarship from the Government of Botswana to attend St. George’s University as a third-year premed student in 2015.
Opportunities at Her Fingertips
In addition to her studies at SGU, Ms. Bowe has strived to learn more about the world around her. During her basic science years, she was heavily involved in the University’s International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA) chapter, which allowed her to travel to such countries as Montenegro, Mexico, Paraguay for IFMSA General and Regional Assemblies. She also did a one-month internal medicine professional exchange in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at Hospital Universitario Gaffree e Guinle under IFMSA’s Professional Exchange Chapter.
“I really appreciated the opportunity because we’d have all these students pursuing a medical degree, yet we were all contributing to the whole dialogue of how we can achieve better health for everyone, whether it’s antimicrobial resistance, vaccines, or sexual reproduction,” she said. “Primary health care is a very big initiative, and I think we can help take care of patient populations by integrating medics with communities and tackling problems from the get-go rather than letting these problems progress to advanced stages.”
Ms. Bowe has divided her clinical training time between SGU’s network hospitals in the United Kingdom and United States. She is on schedule to graduate from SGU in 2020, at which point she hopes to match into an internal medicine residency, with an eye on specializing in interventional cardiology.
“Being an SGU student has really exposed me the different healthcare systems in Grenada, the UK, the US, and Brazil. Adding my home country Botswana to the list, I think I have developed a deeper appreciation of cultural competency and medicine.”
“Coming to Grenada has really opened doors for me,” she added. “It has boosted me in the right direction. Without SGU, I wouldn’t be standing where I am.”
– Brett Mauser