Laureate Student Ambassador: Barbara Marinho

When she was 8-years-old, Barbara Marinho lost her sister to cancer.

“She was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. She had a tumor, the size of an orange inside of her brain,” Marinho recalled.

She watched her parents adjust their lifestyle—selling most of their possessions and giving up almost everything to be able to help their daughter. Although the surgery was successful, Marinho’s sister died a few months after.

“I internalized this when I was a child,” she said. “This is the moment I knew I wanted to be a physician. I would tell people I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, at 8-years-old, even though I didn’t understand what the job entailed.”

Marinho held on to the memory of her sister passing and eventually enrolled at Universidade Potiguar (UnP) in Natal, in northeastern Brazil. But now in her fifth year of medical school, with one remaining year, she understands her plight isn’t just about making sick patients better.

“It doesn’t matter if you know everything about a cardiac arrest or any disease if you don’t give something to your community or affect real change,”

said Marinho.

Affecting change is one of the reasons she chose to stay in Natal, despite wanting to study medicine in the United States initially.

“It was important to study here, having understood the problems my community faces,” she said. “I can have a bigger impact here.”

“When I found out about UnP being part of a network that provides you with many global opportunities, also which had one of the highest ratings for medical schools in all of Brazil, it was the most logical choice for me,” she said.

Marinho has helped expand the International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations (IFMSA) locally, where she has volunteered for dozens of health and social interventions in underserved communities of Natal. The organization began with just a few students and has now grown to 100 people.

Marinho found opportunities to travel, see the world, and bring back home a plethora of knowledge. Her social and professional commitment has allowed her to participate in academic exchange programs with institutions such as Queen Mary University in London, the University of Oslo, University of East Anglia, Harvard, Stanford, San Pablo de Madrid, and L’Université Clermont-Auvergne.

She has also worked with Doctors Without Borders, The American Red Cross and most recently has been selected to be part of a cohort of 6 student ambassadors, across the Laureate network, to attend the B Corp Champions Retreat.

“This journey isn’t about how much you’ve learned but the things you do with what you’ve learned,” she said.