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Internship takes senior to Thailand to teach English

September 24, 2013

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

For many, summer vacation means hanging out with friends and lying by the pool. But what if you could trade this for the opportunity to change the life of child in need?

Brett Troeger, a senior at Arizona State University in the Department of English, spent his summer in a remote Akha village in Thailand teaching young women and children how to speak English. Download Full Image

The internship was coordinated through ASU and Winnie Cain, an Arizona local, who founded the Ahka Women’s Foundation to empower the women within the Ahka village by providing them with education and health care programs that would otherwise be unavailable, due to a severe lack of finances. In fact, many Ahka girls are sold into prostitution by their families who are in desperate need of money.

To combat this harsh reality, Cain and students like Troeger dedicate their time to educating the girls so that they may secure paying jobs. For Troeger, the three-month endeavor left a lasting impact.

Upon arriving in the village, he was introduced to his host family and immediately began learning the local culture. Due to its remote location, locals have acquired a self-sustaining way of living. They grow their own crops and keep cattle as a food source. For entertainment, villagers enjoy playing soccer, something Troeger had in common as he once dreamed of playing the game professionally.

“I didn’t speak any Ahka and I was the only white person in the village, so I was almost like an outcast. Once I showed them that I could play soccer they began to respect me more. It was a great way to connect with them,” he said.

When he wasn’t playing soccer, the Indiana native spent his mornings teaching the schoolchildren. He tried to make each lesson plan fun and educational to keep the attention of the youngsters. However, Troeger says that he quickly saw a power-shift between boys and girls. After their morning lesson, the boys would leave and play games. The girls would stay to finish their schooling and then return to the village to work in the fields or do other chores.

“The girls do everything in the village. It’s amazing though, because they are so brilliant and studious. The foundation is the only opportunity they have for education and the chance of life outside of prostitution,” he said.

If his lessons were completed for the day, Troegar would often hike around and explore the land. He would also go fishing with his new friends and sit under the stars joking around. The group became so close that Troeger said he had to fight back tears when his journey ended.

“I’m definitely going back. I learned so much from them and had a great time. It was also rewarding to see them go from not speaking English to being able to tell me their name, age and things about themselves,” he said.

Now back in the United States, Troegar is working to complete his final year at ASU. He is still unsure of his exact career path, but is considering joining the Peace Corps or breaking into the travel writing business.

ASU Town Hall on Future of Health Care Delivery to be streamed, tweeted live

September 24, 2013

The Sept. 25 Arizona State University Town Hall on the Future of Health Care Delivery, featuring former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, ASU President Michael M. Crow and Wyatt W. Decker, Mayo Clinic vice president and CEO in Arizona, will be streamed live via the Internet and tweeted throughout the event, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The video stream can be found at; the live Twitter feed will appear on, using #FutureofHealthCare. Download Full Image

“We believe this discussion on health care delivery and where it is headed is a critically important conversation,” says Crow. “We welcome Dr. Carmona’s lead role in the conversation and look forward to his insight and that of Dr. Decker as we explore the future of health care delivery and the longstanding partnership between ASU and Mayo Clinic; the collaboration is already a transformative one that will lead to further innovation at previously unheard-of levels.”

In 2002, Carmona was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as 17th Surgeon General of the United States based on his extensive experience in public health, clinical sciences, health care management and preparedness. As the nation’s doctor, he focused on prevention, preparedness, health disparities, health literacy and global health. He issued many landmark surgeon general communications, including the definitive Surgeon General's Report about the dangers of second-hand smoke. Today, he is the first Distinguished Professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona and the first Distinguished Professor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, and serves as president of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute and vice chairman of Canyon Ranch.

Decker has been with Mayo Clinic for more than 16 years as a consultant and professor of emergency medicine. He has served in numerous leadership roles, including chair of Emergency Medicine, with chair responsibilities for both the emergency departments at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and Jacksonville, Fla. He currently serves as chair of the Mayo Clinic Personnel Committee in Rochester, and is leading the Rochester Destination Medical Community Initiative.

ASU and Mayo have established a variety of successful programmatic collaborations since 2003, including a joint nursing education program, joint research projects and faculty appointments, and dual degree programs. The success of the ASU-Mayo collaboration led to a broader partnership in 2011 that includes health care, medical research and education. ASU’s new School for the Science of Health Care Delivery is the first of its kind in the country. Students attending the Mayo Medical School when it opens in Scottsdale, Ariz. will earn both a medical degree from Mayo and a Master of Science in the science of health care delivery from ASU, as the program will be embedded in the medical degree curriculum.

“The current health care system in the United States is undergoing massive changes,” says Crow. “ASU and Mayo Clinic are at the forefront of this transformation.

“ASU is deeply committed to new models of success in higher education, and Mayo Clinic – an institution that can change national trajectories – is equally committed to doing things in new ways,” adds Crow. “Our discussion on Wednesday evening will explore in greater depth how we can advance health care delivery in a more affordable, personalized manner. The possibilities of a decade ago are no longer mere possibilities. They are results – lifesaving results – and show that with more work, our best days are ahead of us.”

Copy writer, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College