Kolisek Family Supports Global Health Internships

Last summer was an eye-opening experience for Jacob Ramirez ’25 who, along with other Global Health Initiative (GHI) students, spent three weeks in Peru providing health assistance to various communities across the country.

Jacob Ramirez ’25 (right) and another GHI student studying in Peru.

“From spending time observing and interacting with individuals with Down Syndrome, having personal and insightful conversations with underprivileged mothers, and providing advice and guidance to school children,” said Ramirez, “I made it a priority to give it my all to ensure I was providing appropriate assistance.”

His responsibilities varied day by day, but Ramirez said each was “full of new lessons to take home” regarding the reality of how difficult it can be for some communities to have access to health care.

The biology major and history minor from Alamo, Texas, approached every situation with an open mind, ready and willing to experience new things.

“As I have now realized, the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” he said. “After my internship concluded, I was truly humbled and thankful for all the opportunities I have been given.”

Now, thanks to the Kolisek Family Health Innovation Fund established by Dr. Frank Kolisek ’82 and his wife, Lisa, more students like Ramirez will get the opportunity to experience transformative internships as part of the new GHI direct admit program.

Frank is a member of the Wabash College Board of Trustees, a member of the GHI advisory committee, and past chair of the admissions and marketing committee of the Board. He is an Indianapolis-based and internationally-recognized total joint surgeon with OrthoIndy who specializes in the treatment of hip and knee arthritis. Lisa is a registered nurse who retired after the birth of their second child. She has served on various community and educational boards, including the Wabash Women’s Collective. The two are parents of Jake ’11, Charlie ’14, and Kelsey, a 2016 graduate from Denison University.

“When GHI students give presentations about their time in Peru or with other health agencies, I’m always impressed by all that they learn and take away from those opportunities,” Frank said. “These internships really change their lives, and we wanted to do our part in continuing to support Wabash in that work.”

Dr. Frank ’82 and Lisa Kolisek with Wabash President Scott Feller

Wabash’s GHI is a collection of opportunities that allows students to learn about and work in global public health in and out of the classroom and to serve communities locally, regionally, and internationally.

GHI’s direct admit program is a new, highly competitive opportunity designed to provide Wabash students interested in participating in public health education, investigation, and service a cohort experience throughout their freshman year and a guaranteed summer internship after their freshman or sophomore year.

Additionally, direct admits will have the opportunity to participate in an immersion learning experience in Peru, South America, during their freshman or sophomore year.

GHI Director and Biology Professor Eric Wetzel has been leading the Peru immersion experience for more than 10 years.

He said students work alongside the Global Health Initiative-Peru Association and interact with community members in the context of the three programs: Vida Sana, designed to develop leadership in women and to support healthy lifestyles; Crediendo Juntos (Growing Together), designed for children that teaches healthy habits; and Corazones Excepcionales (“Exceptional Hearts” or COEX), a program designed for children with Down Syndrome.

“Wabash students participate in these ongoing programs as well as learn about different levels of the Peruvian healthcare system,” Wetzel said. “In addition, we interact with Peruvian students as we travel to the three major zones of Peru. It’s an amazing experience and is incredibly formative, particularly for students early in their Wabash education; I’m so grateful that we get to do it.”

Established as part of the Giant Steps Campaign, the Kolisek Family Health Innovation Fund is designed to incubate, catalyze, and support innovative programs and initiatives that serve to enhance and expand the College’s record of student success in medicine and health-related professions.

“The ultimate goal of the fund is to support Wabash initiatives that will grow the College’s enrollment and retention,” Frank said, “while also getting students involved and prepared for health careers that are in high-demand.”

“We also want to see Wabash continue to grow as a nationally-recognized school for pre-med,” Lisa added. “Students should know that if they pick Wabash, they are picking a place that will ultimately set them up for success.”

As a GHI member, students will learn professional skills that are transferable and highly desirable for most careers including effective communication, data analytics, program development, empathy, and cultural competence.

Jill Rogers, pre-health advisor and program coordinator for the GHI, said global health requires students to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to understand complex ideas, and find creative ways to problem-solve.

GHI direct admits will have the opportunity to participate in an immersion learning experience in Peru, South America, during their freshman or sophomore year.

“This is fantastic preparation for our future doctors, and also for our future business leaders, lawyers, and change-makers,” Rogers said. “A liberal arts education and the GHI is a perfect training ground for students who want to take on the important challenges of our local, regional, and international communities.”

Frank and Lisa believe that it will take more than the Kolisek Family Health Innovation Fund to adequately support the GHI long-term. The couple encourages other alumni to give back in support of the next generation.

“The world is in desperate need of more nurses, doctors, and health workers, and Wabash has a proven track record of preparing students for those careers,” said Lisa. “Wabash can’t provide programs like the GHI without philanthropy. We need more people who believe in this mission to get involved and give back.”


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