, 2022-08-25 20:23:12,
Working as a disaster relief volunteer made this 2022 Healthline Stronger Scholarship winner determined to improve health inequity for refugees around the world.
The outdoors have inspired Immanuel Bissell for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Los Angeles, California, where the San Gabriel Mountains set a glorious background for the cityscape.
His enthusiasm for nature nudged him to pursue earth science in university — but it wasn’t the only reason he chose that field.
He was also working with the American Red Cross as a disaster relief volunteer, and the experience showed him firsthand how climate change affects some communities far worse than others.
“The work was a stark introduction to the complexity of disaster response efforts and a visceral reminder that environmental change disproportionately affects under-resourced communities,” says the 21-year-old, who is entering his junior year at Yale University this fall.
Addressing these disparities requires, among other things, a solid understanding of earth science — hence why Bissell chose that major. He plans to enter medical school after college. The eventual goal? To address the health inequities refugees experience with climate change.
We asked Bissell about his studies, goals, and obstacles. Here’s what he had to say.
Studying earth science is the academic extension of the passion I’ve felt toward the outdoors for as long as I can remember.
Exploring nature has long dictated my path. Back home in Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Mountains inspired me to help with trail restoration projects on the weekends when I was in high school. I also went to Tennessee over my gap year to climb sandstone rock walls.
All of that has fed into my interest in earth science, but I also chose to study it for the human impact. Every drought, heat wave, or tsunami that takes a toll on human lives feels significant to me.
Caring for others as an emergency medical technician (EMT), tutor, and family member have been extremely fulfilling experiences for me. This field would allow me to continue helping others while feeding my passion for the outdoors.
I took a leave of absence over the 2020–2021 school year to work on three projects.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura and the Oregon wildfires, I worked as a disaster responder with the American Red Cross, connecting clients with resources like financial aid, housing, and meal stipends.
I also worked in two research labs through Yale. In the earth and…
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