Abroad with Alex!

Hi everyone! My name is Alex Tolassi and I am a freshman nursing student here at the University of Pittsburgh. I’m from West Chester, PA, which is “outside of Philly”, as everyone here likes to say. Here at Pitt, I’ve been involved in Nursing Students Association, Pitt College Democrats, and I recently joined the Kappa chapter of Theta Phi Alpha sorority. In addition to pursuing my BSN, I hope to complete an honors thesis during my undergraduate career that focuses on the effect of the Spanish language barrier on the provision of healthcare and adherence to treatment in Spanish-speaking populations.

Outside of the nursing curriculum, I like to explore and keep active in Pittsburgh. I have been a dancer my entire life, so I enjoy taking classes at Millennium Dance Complex in my free time in Southside. I also work as a care attendant at UPMC Shadyside Hospital, where I am responsible for supervision of at-risk patients and assisting with activities of daily living, like washing, feeding, and mobility.

Academically, I’m very interested in the Spanish language and Latin American culture, which is part of the reason I was so excited about Plus3 Argentina. I have been studying Spanish since the seventh grade, and I attended Middlebury Monterey Summer Language Academy in 2015, where I pledged to speak exclusively in Spanish for the entire summer. I also travelled to Cuba on in 2017 on a service trip with my high school to learn about Cuban culture and history and to work with local communities. Having been to Cuba, I have an idea of what experiencing the Latino culture is like, and I’m excited to see how Argentinian culture compares with what I was able to see in Cuba. I’m also looking forward to putting my Spanish to the test in Argentina!

After graduation, I hope to work in an emergency room or trauma unit in an urban hospital with diverse patient populations and incorporate my passion for Spanish into my profession. When a patient comes to the hospital, especially to such a high-stress department like trauma or the ER, having healthcare providers that speak their language and are culturally aware elevates the standard of care, makes patients feel more comfortable in the healthcare system, and helps to alleviate healthcare disparities.

This trip, I am very interested in seeing a fuller picture of the healthcare system, aside from just the delivery side that nurses are most familiar with. Admittedly, I am not very business-minded, so I’m hoping to continue learning about that aspect of the healthcare industry more in-country. Studying abroad in Argentina will help me gain a new perspective of the system so that I am better able to understand how so many different aspects affect a community’s health, as this is necessary in order to understand how health disparities are perpetuated and how to best alleviate them. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing Argentina’s healthcare system differs from our own. I am also very excited to immerse myself in Argentina’s culture and learn how people on the other side of the world live. Overall, I chose Plus3 Argentina because it combines two of my favorite things: Spanish and healthcare, and I couldn’t be more excited to depart for Buenos Aires in a couple weeks!

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