by Nicole Basler
Photo courtesy of FISH
USC students have taken a greater role in global health care through the efforts of a new
organization, Fellowship for International Service and Health (FISH). Founded last semester,
USC FISH has been collaborating with UCLA FISH to conduct service day trips to a clinic in
the city of Maclovio Rojas, Mexico every two weeks on Saturday.
FISH members learn basic medical screening procedure and work alongside healthcare
professionals to provide services including taking vital signs, measuring blood sugar levels,
passing out toothbrushes, vitamins, and mineral supplements, and providing free consultations,
directing the locals to doctors if necessary.
Joseph Zikry, CEO and Founder of USC FISH, said, “The mission of FISH is to connect
students with a passion for helping others with the people who most need their help. We hope to
effectively address the specific medical needs of various underserved communities in Mexico, as
well as disseminate and educate the residents on health initiatives.”
A typical service trip begins at 5:30 AM a Saturday. FISH volunteers meet at Leavey
Library before leaving. After making a stop at San Diego near the US-Mexico border, they
proceed to Maclovio Rojas. There, the clinic is set up and conducted for several hours. After the
clinical sessions are concluded for the day, volunteers get a taste of authentic Mexican food and
return to USC.
While FISH student volunteers collaborate with doctors on the trips, students also gain
direct experience with the locals of Maclovio Rojas.
Zikry said, “The people there are extremely kind and welcoming. They are all so
appreciative of the work and effort the students provide them… Just lending an ear to someone
who may have a health concern or a family concern goes a long way.”
FISH believes that its organization offers a global health experience to USC students of
Zikry said, “Students are given an opportunity to be submerged in global health issues
without having to spend a semester or several weeks abroad and at a very low cost…FISH gives
students valuable international medical experience as well as giving students an opportunity to
experience a different culture.”
In the future, FISH Board members plan to expand the organization both on and off USC
campus. USC FISH is currently serving the community of Maclovio Rojas with UCLA but is
seeking to find other locations and communities in Mexico to serve as well. The club also hopes
to serve target underserved populations in nearby Los Angeles areas, attract more volunteers, and
hold an annual fundraiser next semester.
Kausar Ali, FISH Chief Operations Officer, considers her experience with FISH
rewarding. She said, “The most important thing I learned … is to never take anything for
granted. There are so many opportunities given to me that people in Maclovio Rojas can only
dream about… I should use these opportunities to give back to the community.”
Zikry also said, “As a premed student, it is very easy to get [so] caught up with school
that you almost begin to lose sight of what is important. But with FISH, you have the means to
communicate your desire and passion by helping those people who need it most.”
All students are welcome to apply as volunteers. An application is required. Because
FISH is a new organization, the application process is subject to change, and an applicant
interview is a strong possibility in the future. Applications are closed for this semester, but will
be available next fall. All accepted members of FISH are expected to attend a mandatory training
session and monthly meetings, at which they are taught to perform different health procedures
and how to communicate with patients. All members must have a valid passport before they go
on trips. The USC FISH website is currently under construction and will launch soon, but
questions can be answered by reaching FISH’s Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.