Alina Nestjorkina originally planned to major in business, but developed a fascination with medicine on a humanitarian aid trip to Haiti three months after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
During the visit, Alina was deeply affected by a malnourished infant who came to the clinic in an unresponsive state. Her job was to use a syringe to put small amounts of formula in the child’s mouth, and gently move her jaw up and down to encourage her to swallow. After several hours, the baby began swallowing on her own and was feeding and responding normally by the time she left the clinic.
When Alina returned from Haiti she was transformed. She switched her focus from business to science, and began volunteering at a local hospital.
She had the opportunity to interact with both patients and healthcare professionals at the hospital, and was even able to shadow a physician. In that capacity she observed physical exams, deliveries, post-surgical checkups and general consultations. The experience helped her learn about the “backside” of healthcare, and cemented her desire to become a doctor.
After completing her associate degree at LCC in 2011, she transferred to Western Washington University. In 2013 she earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Then she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Tanzania where she taught science at a secondary school and worked to educate village residents about disease prevention, particularly in regard to malaria and HIV.
When a cholera outbreak gripped Tanzania during her stay, Alina tracked the spread of the disease and recorded each fatality. In each case—malaria, HIV, cholera—what struck her the most was the importance of behavioral change to both individual and societal health.
After two years in Tanzania Alina returned to the United States to pursue her dream of attending medical school. Her experiences in both Haiti and Tanzania helped shape her strong personal philosophy about the importance of mental change to the disease prevention and management process.
As a future physician, Alina’s dream is to contribute to a healthier global community by spreading education about preventable diseases; one patient at a time.
While at LCC Alina served as the Vice President of Student Affairs for the Associated Students of Lower Columbia College (ASLCC) and worked as a tutor.