After a month through the Spring Semester, I must say many of the expectations I blogged about at the very beginning have been met while others have drastically pivoted for the best. For the past few weeks we have been implementing our version of the Sprint methodology – which in itself takes from Agile project management; this has influenced the way our projects are being handled very heavily. In my particular case, I feel like this semester shifted completely towards fulfilling projects for my home country of Costa Rica.
The first “individual project” Sprint we had was VisRefr, the project I’m in charge of, followed by our team design project. By now it should be no surprise that both of them are directed towards the Costa Rican healthcare system and it has enough implications in it that it warrants us travelling down there again for a few days. This week Michael and I are going down for some interviews, user testing, expert feedback and any other information we may find. In VisRefr’s case, we will be visiting Hospital Mexico in San Jose, the Cañas Clinic in Guanacaste and maybe even the Liberia Hospital. I am hoping to collect some valuable user feedback from the mockup we focused our efforts in making during the Sprint. For the Design project we will just visit the Liberia Hospital since that is where most of the information we need can be gathered. From a technical standpoint I have very high hopes from all the data we can collect in our short 3 day trip, whereas from a more personal standpoint I hope I have the stamina for so much travel! The flight to CR is something I am used to but the 3-4 hour drive to Liberia I have not done in a few years, we’ll see how that goes – talk about an eventful Spring Recess! At least I get to see my family for a full day before returning to Houston next week.
On a more profound note regarding my overall feelings for the program so far, I am still more than glad to have chosen such a wonderful opportunity. In the past few weeks I have been exposed to professionals, experts and faculty who have offered me advise on what my opportunities are once we graduate in May. I am now convinced I should go back to Costa Rica where I can have a more immediate impact on society by offering my newly acquired expertise in the field. I would be lying if I say I am certain on precisely what I will do back home right after graduation, but I have newfound feelings to involve myself more in our governance and policy-making to make sure there is room for innovation there. As an international student I have felt more than welcomed by the American lifestyle; despite the few shortcomings often portrayed by the media and politicians, it has been an embracing second home. Through the GMI program I feel like I have learned a lot more about my place in society – somewhere I can be of service and pioneer in the fields of bioengineering (and whatnot!) Beyond the technical expertise that I expected to acquire in a Master’s of Bioengineering, the leadership values that we are immersed in during our stay in Rice University and through the brilliant living example that we are exposed to everyday with Dr. Richardson are possibly what has made me pivot around what my personal ambitions are. Some day I hope I can move beyond Costa Rica and even beyond Houston and find a way to scale up my vision to a truly global perspective.
As I have said before, I am grateful to be part of this experience – I have trouble imagining how it could get any better, but I welcome any surprises that await; after all, we still have a little under three months of relentless Sprints, travel and presentations!