Jana Brcek’s Penn State story is like no other. A senior double majoring in biology and physiology with a minor in chemistry, Brcek’s area of study was defined by moments in her upbringing that formalized her goal of spreading love and peace within the world.
Born and raised in Venezuela, Brcek was no stranger to devastation. Living through the 1999 dictatorship, rapid political and social changes were evident in her daily life. Imported goods she and her family were accustomed to began to disappear. She states that though her childhood was overall happy, she has seen how dark the world could be.
Her interest in the medical field was sparked when her childhood maid received a free surgery that fixed her eye, marking the beginning of Brcek’s desire to help those who are less fortunate.
Venezuela is just a country that is trying to survive, not at war.
Upon going on a humanitarian trip to Malawi her senior year of high school, Brcek had seen the effects of poverty and a lack of sustainable healthcare system. The group she had gone with fundraised over $100,000 to build the foundation of a school within the area. While there, she had seen nearly 30 women waiting in a line outside a resource clinic on the side of a dirt road in 90 degree heat.
Poverty and devastation surrounded her, and it appeared as though not enough aid was being given to better the lives of these people. No technology, minimal education and dirt roads made up the region. This experience made her extremely empathetic, inspiring her to find a solution.
Moving to the United State at age 15 with just her brother and father, they knew no one else. “To survive,” she recounts, “you have to grow up and mature quickly.”
Brcek’s desire providing foundational change in regards to the medical system drove her aspiration to go to medical school after her time at Penn State. She wants to alter the way healthcare works, believing that everyone deserves it.
Through her field of study, Breck wants to help those less fortunate. Her dream is to start a nonprofit, creating a series of resource clinics for impoverished people, starting within her home of Venezuela.
Through her frustrations, she wants to show people within the US that things could be much worse, seeing that not a lot of people have the sympathy to put themselves in the shoes of those living in much worse situations than their own.
Her philosophy of selflessness was derived by her family and her own experiences, as living a humble and simply life has left a huge impact on her. This philosophy arises from a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that stands out to her:
There is really no point in living if you are not going to serve the other.
Jana Breck is determined to strive for change within the world, making it a better place for all.