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Rachel Geiser, a senior in Barrett Honors College double majoring in biochemistry and political science, sees work as a surgeon and public health researcher in her future. She already is acquiring experience that will help her reach her goal.
She completed an internship with the Mayo Clinic-Barrett Honors College Premedical Scholars Program at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix last summer. She shadowed doctors in neuro surgery, thoracic surgery, general surgery and infectious disease and observed surgeries. She attended hands-on lab training in sutures, blood drawing and casting.
Geiser said the Mayo program provided her with a unique experience, not available to most students.
“Being able, as an undergraduate, to shadow physicians at a top, world class hospital has been invaluable. Getting into an OR as an undergraduate is not common. It is a unique experience that helped me confirm surgery is an area of medicine I want to go into,” said Geiser, whose goal is to obtain both a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health.
“I was surprised at how open and welcoming the physicians were. Commitment to teaching is part of the Mayo Clinic culture. It’s very inspiring,” she added.
Geiser recommends that every student complete at least one internship.
“Not only does it give you good experience that makes you a more competitive candidate for graduate school or jobs, but it also helps you confirm what you want to do and gives you exposure. It’s also a great way to network,” she said.
Networking also is part of Geiser’s job as executive director of the All Walks Project. In 2012, two Barrett students, Erin Schulte and Jessica Hocken, founded the organization to raise awareness of human trafficking in the United States through peer-to-peer networking and education among college students. There are now All Walks chapters at universities throughout the U.S.
Geiser joined All Walks in 2014 and served as the group’s event coordinator. Now, as executive director, she helps to grow the organization, manage events, and develop partnerships.
Currently, major partners are the McCain Institute’s Student Alliance Against Trafficking and Cindy McCain, wife of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Forty anti-trafficking organizations are in the Student Alliance Against Trafficking; six of those are All Walks chapters. There are three All Walks chapters in high schools in Arizona. Recently, a chapter of All Walks was established at University of Mississippi.
Geiser is collaborating with Cindy McCain on a public service announcement that will help inform students about human trafficking and what they can do about it.
In addition to the PSA, All Walks continues to share information in other ways.
Every January, All Walks hosts Human Trafficking Week with speakers, panel discussions, and information tables with anti-trafficking organizations.
“Most of what we do is educate students about what human trafficking is and try to dispel myths,” Geiser said.
According to Geiser, myths about human trafficking include:
It only happens in other countries. The fact is that it happens in the U.S.
Human trafficking stems from kidnapping. In the US, most human trafficking stems from the trafficker creating relationship with their victim and then using coercion and blackmail to begin trafficking them.
Human trafficking only affects low-income or low socio-economic status people. It affects people from all backgrounds, all ethnicities, and all socio-economic status.
Earlier this semester, All Walks at ASU collaborated with ASU Athletics and the Michigan State University All Walks chapter to highlight issues of human trafficking at the ASU vs. MSU football game.
Cheerleaders and band members from both teams wore patches on their uniforms and a vector image was displayed on the field. All Walks members and cheerleaders stood together on the field while holding “end trafficking” signs and volunteers handed out stickers, water bottles and informational flyers.
Geiser believes that progress in informing people about human trafficking is being made, but there’s room to make more headway.
“I have noticed an increase of the knowledge of human trafficking, but there‘s still a lot of confusion about human trafficking and prostitution. Studies show that anywhere from 89-95% of prostitution is related to human trafficking. There’s a movement of people becoming aware of these issues, but there’s still a lot to do,” she said.
Geiser will continue to do her part to educate others about human trafficking, increase membership in All Walks and establish new chapters throughout the country.
In the future, when she becomes a physician, she would like to train other doctors on the subject.
“Human trafficking is something physicians have a duty to be aware of, especially in emergency rooms, because lots of trafficking victims present themselves in emergency rooms,” she said.