|Damian Glumcher used to volunteer at Carlisle Hospital, but had to stop now that he is busy as a chemistry-lab tutor, among other actitivies.
If you’re a doctor in Uruguay, don’t expect to spend your time in the research lab. It’s more likely you’ll be in the driver’s seat of a taxicab. An overabundance of doctors (nearly four per 1,000 people, as opposed to about two-and-a-half per 1,000 in the United States) makes Uruguay a poor career choice for a prospective medical researcher/physician.
Thanks to a combination of scholarship funds that covers his full tuition, Damian Glumcher ’08 of Montevideo can chart his path toward an M.D./Ph.D., a degree that he says is not available in Uruguay.
Though from a middle-class home, for Uruguay—his mother is a lawyer, his father is a businessman—Glumcher would have been unable to study outside his country without scholarship aid from Dickinson.
“The economic situation is so bad,” he says. “And medical research, while necessary, is a luxury.” Though his parents miss him, he says, “they understand this is an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I thank the college and [scholarship] donors.”
He knew he’d have better prospects at Dickinson than in Uruguay, but he never imagined he’d have an electron microscope at his disposal. “There are only two in all of Uruguay,” he says. The surprises just kept coming.
His adviser, Associate Professor of Biology Mike Roberts, had done a postdoctorate at Princeton and was able to connect Glumcher with a molecular biologist there who’d been nominated for a Nobel Prize. Glumcher spent his first summer after starting college as part of a team working at Princeton on the discovery of an abnormal reaction in DNA. An Inge Paul ’58 and John R. Stafford ’59 Scholarship, awarded to promising life-science students at Dickinson, helped with his living expenses. “We’re given a certain amount to support or conduct research,” he says. “It’s a flexible scholarship.”
Glumcher, a biochemistry & molecular biology and neuroscience dual major, hopes to have the funds to return to Princeton this summer. While continuing some of his Princeton research at Dickinson, he serves as a tutor in introductory chemistry labs. He also is on the board of Hillel and belongs to the Model United Nations club.
Glumcher’s other tuition-fund sources are a John Dickinson Scholarship and a Global Campus Scholarship, established in 2003 to support talented international students, and an Engage the World Fellowship, which provides $3,000 to use for a project or study abroad. Glumcher, like many international students, plans to spend his junior year at one of Dickinson’s study-abroad sites, most likely Queensland, Australia, or Norwich, England, which are science oriented.
Getting to know scholarship donors like Yale Asbell ’78 and Larry Kent, a trustee, has been a bonus. “Apart from the fact that they are donors, it’s worthwhile spending time with them,” Glumcher says. “They have made an investment in me, but I have a relationship with them because I want it, not because it is required.
“I feel the college has given me a lot, and I will do what I can now to help repay the college,” he adds. This includes helping to recruit other students from South America. “I am not in a contract that requires me to give back. I feel a connection to Dickinson and a responsibility. If it wasn’t for Dickinson I wouldn’t be in the United States or have the opportunity at Princeton.”
But he’s also aware that bringing him to Carlisle broadens the horizons for American students. “Part of why I am here at Dickinson is it benefits the community a lot to be exposed to what other cultures would do.”
One role he relishes is showing North Americans how South Americans express friendship. For instance, Glumcher says, “We don’t handshake with friends. In Uruguay we tend to be more openly affectionate, kiss our friends [male and female] on the cheek to say hi. We are close physically. We like to hug.”
When he encounters another Uruguayan student on campus, Daiana Beitler ’07, and hugs her, “People say, ‘What are you doing in public?’ ”
While, per usual, American students are eager to learn the catchiest slang in his language, Spanish, it’s not such an easy task. Glumcher offers with a laugh, “When you curse in Spanish it is more elaborate. The curses are stronger and longer.”
Traveling between continents and cultures does have its price. When Glumcher goes home, “I have trouble switching back to Spanish. It’s hard to be 24/7 using one language, and then switching to the other.” •