When Tara Shoecraft was given an opportunity to further her education in India, Nepal, and Nigeria by participating in a volunteer medical mission internship within a third world country, she jumped at it. Tara, an undergraduate Physical Therapy major at Azusa Pacific University and a 2009 graduate of Westview High School, will take a leave of absence from school in February 2012 and depart the states to go abroad for three and a half months of volunteer work.

The four week trip to India will focus on the physical needs of the people in India by providing free medical clinics consisting of an eye glass ministry, prescriptions, dental hygiene, and health education. Shoecraft’s team will see on average 200 to 300 patients a day.

While In Nepal she will be working with physically and mentally handicapped children at a rehabilitation center in Kathmandu for two months. Many of the clinics she will be working at are understaffed, so she will have opportunities to volunteer her efforts. She will be living with a local Nepalese family to gain a better understanding of the culture.

While in Nigeria, she will have the chance to observe surgery at a hospital and assist local doctors. “I will have the opportunity to assist with a full range of techniques and procedures and learn a great deal about physical therapy during my experiences,” Shoecraft mentions. Hence, Tara’s passion to eventually become a licensed physical therapist.

Tara’s main purpose for this experience is to give back. “I have always loved to travel and ever since I was young, I wanted to visit India and Africa. I have always felt that it is necessary to travel to another part of the world during your college experience because it allows you to enter into a profession with a global perspective,” said Tara.

“I know I will come back with a different perspective of life from immerging myself into the culture,” exudes Tara. “Someday I would like to live in Nepal or India and start my own physical therapy clinic within a third world country.” And so her adventure begins.