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SBU’s Students Without Borders spend week on medical mission in Dominican Republic

Apr 03, 2023

SWOB students in the Dominican RepublicFour physician assistant studies faculty members accompanied 14 students with the St. Bonaventure chapter of Students Without Borders on a medical mission to the Dominican Republic.

Students provided free medical care to more than 240 men, women and children at the clinic site in Batey Olivares. The faculty served as preceptors for each patient and the students worked in pairs providing medicine and medical education for conditions ranging from infections to chronic conditions. 

The contingent thanked Dr. Raul Vazquez of Urban Family Practice of Buffalo and his wife, Toni, for providing support for this medical mission, including providing food for many of the families of Batey Olivares and surrounding villages. 

“This trip has changed our lives forever,” said one SWOB student. “In addition to helping others we have gained a great deal of knowledge about ourselves. The impact that one person can have has inspired us to do even more.”

The trip was planned over two years amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in their second and third year of their PA program volunteered their time, knowledge and clinical skillsets during their spring break (March 18-25) to provide essential healthcare to struggling communities.

Batey Olivares, and similar communities of sugarcane workers and their families, represent some of the most marginalized people in their society. Limited resources in these regions make medical care largely unaffordable or inaccessible without outside assistance.

St. Bonaventure’s SWOB is a student-run organization founded by the inaugural class of Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) students of the DePerro School of Health Professions.

Since SWOB’s inception, executive officers and associate officers have worked tirelessly to raise funds to support a medical mission trip, including a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in November at Olean’s Pulaski Club that sold over 200 meals.

SWOB officers also thanked Nicholas Ferrari of the Tanglewood Group in Allegany for his support in making the medical mission not only possible, but successful.

In-country organization for the trip was provided by Dominican Republic native and humanitarian Rafael Genoa Jr. of Virginia. Professional photography throughout the week was provided by Helga Laing of Olean.

To learn more about the 2023 medical mission trip and future SWOB events, follow the group on social media: Instagram (@sbu_swob) and Facebook (@SBUSWOB).

For people interested in becoming involved in future SWOB events and mission trips, contact President Timothy Stead ( or associate President Taylor Crimi (

Students who made the trip were: Cristian Burgio, Christopher Carlson, Nicole Ellison (vice president), Alexis Gasiewicz (treasurer), Megan Henberger, Bryan Laing, Hajrija Selimovic, Timothy Stead (president), Sara Ajani, Garret Anderson, Kayla Arantowicz (associate secretary), Taylor Crimi (associate president), Alexis Drake and Alyssa Ryan.

The faculty included Kesha Steighner, clinical assistant professor; Jeffrey Szymanski, clinical assistant professor and director of didactics; Dr. James Tkacik, clinical assistant professor and director of clinical education; and Dr. Keith Young, associate professor and founding director of the PA Studies program.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. St. Bonaventure was named the #5 regional university value in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 college rankings edition.

St Bonaventure with Out Borders Program

The St Bonaventure Students with Out Borders program is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when people come together to make a difference. Every year, GBUCBO sponsors a group of students to provide free medical care to those in need in the Dominican Republic. From March 18-25, 2023, the program provided free medical care to 3-400 patients and free food to 100 families.

This program has had a profound impact on the Dominican people. In many cases, this was the first time the patients had seen a doctor in many years. St Bonaventure students were able to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses, ranging from infections to chronic conditions. Furthermore, they provided preventative care, such as vaccinations and health education.

However, the program did not end there. Additionally, St Bonaventure students provided free food to families in need. It is an essential service in a country where many people struggle to make ends meet. As a result of providing this support, the students were able to make a real difference in the lives of these families.

All of this would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Dr Raul and Toni Vazquez and the GBUCBO foundation. This program would not have been possible without their support. In their generosity, they have provided these students with the opportunity to make a real difference in the world.
One of the students from St Bonaventure stated, “This trip has changed our lives forever.”. In addition to helping others, we have gained a great deal of knowledge about ourselves. The impact that one person can have has inspired us to do even more.”

The power of programs such as St Bonaventure Students with Out Borders can be seen in this. It is these organizations that bring people together, make a real difference in the world, and inspire us all to do better in the future.