By Shannon Johnson
Darby Bettenhausen, a Baker native and 2014 BHS graduate, has been chosen along with nine of her classmates from the University of Montana as an ambassador for the Global Grizzlies to Uganda in the summer of 2019. Global Grizzlies is a non-profit organization that has sent kids to work in hospitals in underprivileged countries for the past decade.
Bettenhausen is the daughter of Carole and Shane Bettenhausen of Baker, Mont. Throughout her high school career she remained active in student activities, including a state champion in Speech and Drama, the founder of Students Against Destructive Decisions, an athlete, as well as numerous other extracurricular activities.
Not knowing where they would be going or how much the trip would cost, Bettenhausen had a mix of emotions when she found out that she was accepted as an ambassador. “I had just learned about it a week before I applied,” she explained. “I was really excited. I didn’t think I was going to get it.”
Bettenhausen and her peers will be working in different areas of medicine, from helping at HIV clinics, to delivering babies, and even assisting with surgeries. Missoula area hospitals have also donated essential medical equipment for the ambassadors to bring with them to Uganda.
Before they leave for Uganda, students will spend several months learning about global health issues, as well as the history, politics, and the social framework of Uganda. This program will not only provide essential medical care to underprivileged areas but will also help the students gain greater cultural awareness and appreciation.
Bettenhausen is a full-time student at the University of Missoula. She is majoring in Political Science and Kinesiology with a focus in Pre-med. In the fall of 2019 she hopes to apply to college in the state of Washington to go to school for her PA or to attend Med School. Bettenhausen originally went to school with an ambition to study law, but that quickly changed after she took her first anatomy exam. “My grandma was a nurse in Baker,” she said. “She’s always been an inspiration to me.” Along with her grandmother, her oldest brother Kaleb, who is a Physician’s Assistant, has always been a source of inspiration for her as well.
This trip is entirely self-funded. At the cost of roughly $5,000, Bettenhausen has sought out funding through different avenues, including a GoFundMe page she has set up, as well as collecting items to be raffled off at a Dinner/Live Auction event at the University of Missoula in April.
Growing up in a rural area, Bettenhausen has always had an interest in rural medicine. “You don’t have the same resources you would in larger areas,” she noted. “I always have kind of liked rural medicine and this is as rural as it gets.”
Along with learning more about rural medicine she also remains eager for the experience itself. “Hopefully I can help a few people there and learn from them, and hopefully I can teach them a few things too,” stated Bettenhausen.