When senior Isabel Miller realized she could combine her passion and her studies to improve her campus, she let nothing get in her way.

She founded UR Health Education And Learning (HEAL), a group that, by itself and through its connections with community organizations, repackages unused medical supplies to send to countries where they are expensive, hosts a program at the Memorial Art Gallery to bring elderly patients together, and providing a local soup kitchen with meals, hospital transportation, and medical supplies.

The UR HEAL president story began like many others’: as a student interested in neuroscience from Austin, Texas, she chose the University of Rochester for its access to research opportunities and the freedom to explore interests outside her major.

For Miller, these other interests included art and membership in the UR Rotaract Club, a service club sponsored by Rotary International.

As she worked her way through her major and climbed the ranks of the Rotaract Club leadership, with dreams of attending medical school, Miller considered the spheres within which she operated.

As president of the Rotaract Club, Miller fervently believed in the power of giving:  “We have so much on campus, and right next door there are people with so little,” she said, “anything we can give back to make their lives better, we should.”

And, as a pre-medical student at the University, Miller was keenly aware of what key medical services and supplies might be missing in the lives of locals.

Thus began the concept of “health volunteering.”

After developing her version of this idea during her junior year, Miller shared her thoughts with friends and academic department heads.

As she happily relayed, the response to her initiative was much greater than she anticipated.

“I emailed some campus departments and clubs,” she said, “and we received almost 60 responses from interested students immediately.”

Today, having received final recognition from the Students’ Association Student Organization Administration & Review Committee, her club consists of 25 regular members and 80 registered members.

Incredibly for a brand new campus organization, UR HEAL already has a strong rotation of charitable programs its members participate in.

Astoundingly, many of these initiatives were conceived of early on in their club’s process and made existent by Miller and her team.

As a student leader, Miller advises other student leaders to constantly try new things. “Don’t be afraid of coming up with new ideas,” Miller said. “Don’t be afraid to suggest new things, even if you’re doing it by yourself.”

As she prepares to graduate, Miller recommends that all students take advantage of everything Rochester has to offer.

“I was exposed to so much by simply attending events where I found the topic even mildly interesting,” she said.

And, in reflection, Miller believes deeply in the active expression of gratitude. As she reflected back on how much she had, and realized how much good she could do, she felt both thankful and compelled to give back.

If you know a student you’d like to see spotlighted in this column, email features@campustimes.org.

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