For most of her life, Rachel Barber '19 has had her sights set on becoming a doctor. "I knew I wanted to help people, and by the time I was 12, I wanted to be involved," shared Rachel.
Fast forward five years, and Rachel is now a certified Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and this year's Ben Read Scholar. She spent part of her summer in Nairobi, Kenya as an intern with the Emergency Medical Foundation of Kenya (EMKF). "I wanted to address the lack of access to first responders and basic first aid care in developing countries," said Rachel.
During her Ben Read Lecture during Chapel on Friday, October 12, Rachel shared her experience with her classmates and Upper School faculty. "My trip to Kenya was eye opening. Not only was I able to instruct Kenyan pre-med students on basic life support techniques and assist in the informational symposium for doctors all across Kenya, but I left this amazing country with a meaningful lesson which I did not anticipate," explained Rachel. "I gained a new respect for time. Others' time, my time, and most importantly, time as it pertains to the world of emergency medicine."
Rachel has learned that time does not treat everyone equally. "I became involved in emergency medicine for this very reason," said Rachel. "During my freshman year, my grandfather died from a fatal hunting accident, in a remote area where emergency services could not reach him in time." This terrible family experience prompted Rachel to join the Uwchlan Ambulance Company. "My attention to time is particularly important in my work as an EMT. Minutes matter. Seconds can be the difference between life and death. I respect that every tick of the clock counts."
During her trip to Kenya, Rachel also learned that economics plays a role in receiving timely medical care- especially in third-world countries. "Time has an indisputable bias when money is involved," explained Rachel. "Now, I realize the ability to pay can buy a person more time, which in turn can be the gaping difference between life and death. Delays are dangerous. I came home from Africa with a new perspective and inkling of my purpose—what I want to do in this life."
Rachel is now planning to take the next step in her medical education and become an Emergency Medical Technician. "The Ben Read Scholarship not only opened my eyes to the crisis of corruption in Kenya's medical system, but supplied me with the necessary resources to make a difference through my instruction of a basic life support class and participation in EMKF's symposium," said Rachel. "Most importantly, the scholarship allowed me to gain a new perspective on time and reaffirmed my love for emergency medicine, inspiring me to become a certified EMT."
Meghan McCormick '07, who has been active with start-up companies and projects in Africa, connected Rachel with EMKF.
Rachel ended her lecture by encouraging students to apply to become a future Ben Read Scholar. "The scholarship will allow you to make a difference, and perhaps the greatest lesson you learn will be the one least anticipated."
The Benjamin H. Read '43 Lecture & Award, established by the Class of '43 together with his family, friends, and colleagues, honors the memory of their classmate who was a statesman, peacemaker, environmentalist, and scholar of world affairs. This program supports annual seminars or lectures by distinguished figures in public affairs, as well as an award presented to an Episcopal Academy student in the V Form.
Last spring, Courtney Spaeth '92 endowed the fund that provides the financial support for the research and development conducted by the Benjamin H. Read Scholar in honor of Upper School history teacher Chuck Bryant, Hon. This financial award, provided to Ben Read Scholars, will now be known as The Chuck Bryant Award.