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UI junior pursues medical career, missionary work

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | FEBRUARY 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. That's how Max Magee described his experience in Tanzania.

His job along with the other missionaries was to teach the doctors in these countries the skills they needed, so they could continue doing surgeries after the help had left.

In 12 days, he believes and he and the missionaries helped at least 100 individuals ranging from children to adults.

"The people in Tanzania, despite their living conditions and their health, are the most generous and happy people I've met," Magee said.

Now, after being immersed in the developing country, he hopes to continue his missionary work in similar areas.

"I want to go back, and now I'm much more motivated to get into medicine, so I can develop the skills to actually help these people," he said. "It's almost going to be hard for me to imagine going on a vacation without giving back to the country. So I think that every year I'm going to do this, because it's so rewarding."

The UI junior was first introduced to the program through his father, also a doctor, who had a friend in the Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries organization.

This was the only time Magee would be able to study abroad throughout his college career, so he jumped at the opportunity.

Alex Volkmar, a friend and fraternity brother of Magee, heard about this experience and immediately became interested in the trip.

"My goal is to be an orthopedic surgeon, and the idea of going to Africa and getting to observe surgeries there sounded amazing," Volkmar said. "It really was a life-changing experience."

The UI sophomore studying biomedical engineering remembers one time when he and Magee spent a whole day digging holes and putting up a fence at the orphanage they stayed at.

He said that Magee was great with the children and that they all loved to get their picture taken, so they could see themselves on the camera screen.

"One of [Magee's] best qualities is his ability to work and communicate well with other people," Volkmar said. "The people of Tanzania are some of the friendliest people I've ever met, and [Magee] worked great with them. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty and do some manual labor."

The orphanage is something very important to the Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries organization, and it currently provides 10 children with electricity and running water.

The ultimate goal is to eventually provide a home for 200 kids.

"If you were to compare the happiness level of the kids here and there, you would see that they love getting their picture taken and being able to play with a soccer ball," Magee said. "Whether you believe in God or not, I think He has had His hand in the process."

Aside from his missionary work, Magee is also involved in Dance Marathon Marathon.

This year, the team he developed of 61 runners, ran the Chicago Marathon and raised $49,000.

Chad Howard, the development director for Dance Marathon, said that Magee is a great leader.

"He is a very outgoing and motivated person who loves to run," Howard said. "He knows his strengths and uses his strengths to better Dance Marathon."

Next fall, Magee has applied to be a part of the hospital committee for Dance Marathon, so he can see the kids that the UI is helping.

But right now, Magee is studying for his MCAT and hoping to be admitted to the UI Carver College of Medicine.

"After all the work I've done with kids, Dance Marathon, and being a swim coach, I really want to look into pediatric orthopedics for my career," Magee said. "Or maybe I'll be inspired to go in the direction of pediatric oncology."


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