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Lizette Ahlers

A first-year Creighton medical student who grew up with a front-row seat to global health inequity gets a chance to address the problem by participating in the University’s Arrupe Global Scholars Program.

Born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua, Lizette Ahlers had a front row seat to the inequities that plague healthcare access around the world. 

“I saw what the lack of access to healthcare did to an individual,” she says. “It was extremely sad to see how treatable and manageable diseases would spiral out of control and consume a person’s life due to lack of resources and healthcare.” 

Today, as a participant in Creighton University’s Arrupe Global Scholars Program, Ahlers is doing something about a problem that has held her attention since she was a child. 

The five-year, scholarship-supported program allows students to earn an MPH along with their MD degree by working with marginalized communities domestically and abroad. Students complete their M1 and M2 years then break to complete their MPH coursework. After the MPH year, students resume their M3 and M4 years. 

Participants travel abroad every year of medical school at one of Creighton’s international partner sites.   

It is an opportunity to work within developing nations that caught Ahlers’ attention when in 2021 she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Boston College. 

I saw what the lack of access to healthcare did to an individual.
— Lizette Ahlers

“I focused on applying to medical schools that were driven by service,” she says. “I was advised to apply to Creighton by a mentor from Boston College who told me that Creighton’s values aligned with mine.” 

After looking further into a Creighton medical education, in particular after discovering the Arrupe Global Scholars program, Ahlers says she knew she had found her home on Creighton’s Omaha, Nebraska, campus. 

“I fell in love with the specific teachings of cura personalis, magis, and women and men for and with others, that were integrated into the curriculum,” she says. “Additionally, Arrupe Global Scholars has given me a chance to integrate these values and expand them to a global health level by striving to eradicate global health inequities. 

“The experiences I have had so far have truly taught me how to be a better person, and a better physician in the long run.” 

The adventure is just beginning for Ahlers, a first-year medical student whose first Arrupe experience was a 10-day orientation at the Institute for Latin American Concern in the Dominican Republic, where she and her fellow students stayed with host families while attending lectures by public health professionals, as well as local doctors and professionals. 

Next year she will choose an Arrupe partner site to which she will return every year of her medical education. During her MPH year she will participate in research pertaining to her partner site before resuming her medical studies.  

“The research will aim to improve the social determinants of health and aim to reach a sustainability development goal,” she says. “I am extremely excited for the years to come and for the lasting impact that this program will have not only on Creighton students but on all partnerships and communities involved.” 

The Arrupe Global Scholars Program is named for Pedro Arrupe, SJ, the 28th superior general of the Society of Jesus, who was deeply committed to social justice and caring for people living in poverty. 

Arrupe Scholars group amidst rolling hills.