Shad­owing med­ical doc­tors through the crowded wards of Bolivia’s Hos­pital Del Nino recently, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent Travis Howlette, ’11, helped care for young patients afflicted with some of the most rare dis­eases in the world.

Chil­dren with “monkey pox” and flesh-​​eating bac­teria com­peted for care with chil­dren suf­fering from more common con­di­tions like tuber­cu­losis and inflamed abscesses. The pedi­atric hos­pital is located in Bolivia’s cap­ital city of La Paz.

We saw some really sad cases,” says Howlette, a health sci­ence major with a premed focus.

He also saw the hopeful begin­ning to life when he assisted in a birth. “Of all my expe­ri­ences, that was the most amazing. I was the third person to hold this little baby.”

Growing up in New Jersey in a family of mostly attor­neys, Howlette knew from boy­hood that he wanted to be a pedi­atric doctor. “I’ve always loved being around kids, and being a role model, and I loved sci­ence, biology and anatomy in school,” he says.

At North­eastern, he is a member of the Health Dis­par­i­ties Stu­dent Col­lab­o­ra­tive, which does out­reach on and off campus around the issue of socioe­co­nomic dif­fer­ences in the inci­dence of dis­ease, health out­comes, or health-​​care access.

His inter­na­tional co-​​op last spring gave him hands-​​on expe­ri­ence as a non­cer­ti­fied med­ical assis­tant, and also enabled him to con­tribute toward the pur­chase of hos­pital med­ical sup­plies through the char­i­table orga­ni­za­tion Child Family Health Inter­na­tional of San Francisco.

Working inter­na­tion­ally also allowed him to achieve a key edu­ca­tional goal.

I wanted to get out of my bubble. I wanted to go some­where in need, and some­place uncom­fort­able, and to immerse myself in the cul­ture” Howlette says. “That’s how I work best, to be put in sit­u­a­tions I’m not cer­tain I can handle, get over my fear and ner­vous­ness, and do my best work.”

To learn more about Health Sci­ences at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, visit: http://​www​.north​eastern​.edu/​b​o​u​ve/