The two groups at the University of Washington, among the largest student groups in St. Louis, are led by one very busy junior, John Jattimiak. As co-president of Heart for the Unhoused, Jachimiak visits community shelters and conducts health checks. Also on campus, as president of the QuestBridge chapter, Jachimiak provides scholars with resources, a voice, and most importantly, community.
Work is full force. When he’s not arranging doctor’s visits for hearts for unaccompanied patients, he organizes dinners for QuestBridge members. , helping classmates use the Student Success Fund to cover emergency costs.
And related to all of them, he is either pursuing neuroscience studies in the arts and sciences or practicing MCAT in preparation for careers in medicine and public health.
“Honestly, I don’t know how John does it all, but he’s driven by the belief that everyone deserves a champion,” said a freshman and Questbridge scholar. Teresa Nguyen said, “He really cares about the people on this campus and in the St. Louis community. They didn’t get all the breaks and all the opportunities.”
I like people, i.e. myself.
Jachimiak grew up outside of South Bend, Indiana. He grew up with two brothers and his mother who worked hard to earn a living. Still, times were tougher than he thought.
“Even though I lived near the poverty line and my house was foreclosed on, I didn’t grow up feeling particularly disadvantaged,” recalls Jachimiak. “As a single mother, she did a good job of hiding our situation.”
strength to overcome adversity
A brilliant student, Jacimiak believed he could get into a prestigious university. Paying for it would be another matter. After doing a random search on the internet for scholarships, I found the QuestBridge National College Match program. The program connects a high-achieving, low-income senior with her four-year scholarship to 48 of the nation’s top colleges. This program is similar to a medical residency system. Both students and schools rank the top choices and are paired by preference. Jachimiak put WashU’s well-known pre-medical program at the top of the list.
“I will never forget the day I found out we were matched,” Jachimiak said. She filled a box in the living room with red and green balloons and let me guess where I was going.All of our friends and family were there.It was definitely a great time.”
Since joining QuestBridge in 2019, the University of Washington has enrolled approximately 190 students who have received Match scholarships and more than 100 students who have been admitted through early and regular decision rounds. Next year, his largest ever 75 match scalars will join his 2027 class. They are welcomed by his Jachimiak, who as president initiated group dinners and community service opportunities. This semester, students will partner with the nonprofit St. Louis Oasis to mentor school children.
“If you don’t have low-income students sitting at your table, you’re missing something,” says Jachimiak. “The adversity we face influences the way we think and gives us another important perspective. These experiences also give us the strength and motivation to make a difference in our St. Louis community. ”
Nguyen didn’t feel empowered when she arrived at the University of Washington. However, with Jachimiak’s encouragement, she assumed a leadership role on the chapter’s executive committee.
Nguyen, who studies political science in the Arts and Sciences, said, “I was a little scared to come to the PWI[a predominantly white institution]where there are a lot of wealthy students.” “But John builds a community where people feel really comfortable being open with one another. John told me, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Make the most. Explore. And don’t hesitate to get the support you need. His message to all of us is “Do your best”. ”
“This population is me”
Jachimiak is equally committed to helping undetained St. Louis people get the medical care they deserve. On a recent winter night, Jachimiak and Hart’s team of non-contained volunteers set up a makeshift clinic in his Covenant house serving non-contained youth. The volunteer brought a blood pressure monitor, a portable scale, menstrual products, condoms, a paper bag filled with granola bars and fruit for his snacks. Her teenage girl, one of her 40 young people living on site, nervously peered into the room.
“Come in,” said Sophia Dutton, co-chair of Heart for the Unhoused. She said, “Bring whatever you want, or just relax on the couch.”
Another volunteer measured her height, weight, and blood pressure, gave her a brochure with free or low-cost medical options, and asked her if she had any questions about her health. However, I kept the pamphlet and received a bag of food.
“We are not here to diagnose or treat anyone. We are not doctors,” Jachimiak said afterwards. “But we are here to help people learn about their health and connect to quality care. What are the obstacles they face to get to, what are their questions about COVID.”
Founded in 2014, Heart for the Unhoused is the largest student-run nonprofit on campus with 90 members. In addition to health screenings, the group distributes first aid kits and menstrual products, creates resource guides for many US cities, and helps set up campus chapters at Ohio State University, Duke University, and other universities. Did. New projects include an initiative to develop an app that collects mental health data at shelters and provides real-time updates on available shelter beds.
With each new project, Heart for the Unhoused rejects even more. Jachimiak and Dutton carefully evaluate initiatives to ensure the organization is meeting its commitments now and in the future.
“It’s really frustrating when community partners say, ‘Yeah, six years ago, I heard from a student who was there for a year, but I quit,’” says Jachimiak. “Having good intentions is not enough. You need a solid infrastructure. That’s why managing growth is so important.”
Stephen Y. Liang, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and faculty advisor to Heart for the Unhoused, says Jachimiak’s operational acumen aligns with his medical know-how.
Jachimiak and Dutton have secured thousands of dollars in grants, carefully vetted and trained student members, and most importantly, built sustainable partnerships with local nonprofits.
“For those of us who work with vulnerable populations, we worry when we see short-term investment medical missions and groups doing health care via helicopters and tourism. That’s not the case,” says Liang. “Jon and Sophia may only have been here for four years, but by working closely with the existing organizations that work day in and day out, we are committed to helping Heart for the Unhoused stay in the community for the long haul. Make sure you graduate.”
Nothing is more important to Jachimiak.
“Our family could have been in the same situation as some of the people I met today,” said Jatimiak. “This group is me. I carry it with me every day.”