When you spend a few minutes talking to fourth-year student Linda Klumpp, it’s clear that she’s a natural advocate. Her passion for the organizations she supports is infectious, and before long, you find yourself wanting to get involved and spread the word, too.
We caught up with Linda to discuss her support for people living with HIV, her dedication to women’s health, and her lifelong determination to become a physician.
Tell us about a cause that’s important to you.
I’ve been participating in an event called Dine Out for Life for five years. It’s a national event that helps raise awareness and funds for people living with HIV, to help with living costs, medications and food. For one night, participating restaurants will donate a percentage of their proceeds to a clinic or social service designated group. Most recently it took place on April 27th.
How did you get involved with Dine Out?
I first got involved during undergrad when I volunteered at North Florida AIDS Network (NFAN), and I mostly worked with women and children. I didn’t realize how expensive HIV meds are, and each person touched me with their story. Many people were constantly faced with the decision of whether to eat or take their medication. Single mothers especially were struggling to feed to their families. Dine Out for Life was a way to help, and I just really enjoy doing it. I’ve been serving as a student ambassador, helping to promote the event beforehand as well as helping out on the day itself.
Linda Klumpp at the Dine Out for Life Event in Miami, with fellow AUC students Kenny Hernandez and Obiorah Agbimson
What has your journey through medical school been like?
I’m older than most students. I really don’t have a backup plan—being a doctor has always been my only plan. I was a medic in the Air Force, and then I worked as a surgical tech in labor and delivery while attending college part-time. It was hard. There were many sleepless nights. I would stay awake, work all night and do the night shift, sleep three hours and then go back to work. AUC gave me a chance, and now I’m here.
Sometimes I look back on it and think, wow, I can’t believe I did that. But now that I’m in clinicals, working 12-16 hours a day feels like nothing. I was prepared for it.
How else has your prior experience prepared you for medical school?
Being in the military is something you keep with you forever. You gain lifelong skills like discipline, teamwork and leadership. Even core things like being punctual and having integrity become part of your life, and it’s incredibly valuable to have these qualities in medical school. And having experience as a surgical tech definitely makes it easier for me in clinicals. In my surgery rotation, I knew the instruments, the language, how to monitor, etc., basic things that I can help other students with, too.
What are your future goals?
I want to be an OB/GYN. I’ve always loved being involved with women’s health. At NFAN I worked with women, here I’m involved with the Happy Period project … it’s something I’m passionate about. I just love helping people. It’s always been a part of me.