Study Abroad - Public Health and Spanish in the Dominican Republic

student taking blood pressure in DR

Be a part of a unique collaboration between Tompkins Cortland, Bridges to Community, and Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM). Explore the Dominican approach to public health and wellness including sport, nutrition, recreation, and agriculture! 

On this transformative trip, you will spend one week studying Spanish and exploring the Dominican approach to health and wellness through interactions with students and faculty at PUCMM and a second week working with Bridges to Community to make a positive impact on the health of a rural community in the Dominican Republic.



  • HLTH216 Field Work in Public Health (3 credits)  
  • SPAN149 Special Topics in Spanish (1 credit)


  • Class Session: late start 10-week course Spring 2024 (pending SUNY Approval)
  • Trip dates: May 17-June 1

Who should register

Open to ALL students. Students should have an interest in learning Spanish and in health or health systems. This course is particularly appropriate for students in nursing, chemical dependency, human services, biology, sociology, and general studies.

When to register

Starting November 2023 through February 2024

Language Requirements 

No language requirement. An interest in learning Spanish is a must.  

GPA Requirements

Student must be in good academic standing.

Travel Fee

Approximately $3,800

What to Expect in the Dominican Republic

  • Temperatures are consistently 80 degrees and above, and many activities take place in full sun
  • Long, full days away from accommodations
  • Mostly group activities, including meals
  • Lots of walking, mostly city streets, but also rural and farm conditions
  • Mosquitos and bugs in some areas

Faculty Trip Leaders

Assistant Professor Sue Mueller, Ph.D., has taught in the TC3 nursing program since 2018. She has lived in Tompkins County since 2003, and, in her spare time, you can find her training in karate or hanging out with her kids and pets. Before the pandemic, Sue was involved in TC3’s longstanding study abroad program in Nicaragua. She is excited to explore the DR with students and make a real difference in the local communities! 

Email Sue:

Adjunct Assistant Professor Christine Evans first taught at TC3 in 2004 and has been here consistently since 2014. She teaches both Spanish and ESL and also works as a liaison for area high school Spanish teachers in TC3’s CollegeNow program. In her free time, she loves to read and sing (in both Spanish and English). She is very excited to participate in this new program and deepen her understanding of public health while practicing her Dominican Spanish. 

Email Christine:

What Students Say About the Trip

Participants in Bridges to Community projects say:

"I can truly say that the decision to join a Bridges to Community trip was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It was love at first sight. I was amazed by the culture, by the people, by the abundance of natural beauty. I couldn’t believe how quickly that cot in a classroom became my home, my haven, and the people working beside me (both from my group and those in the community) became my family.

I can truly say that I have grown and changed as a person, my life has gone in an entirely different direction, and I am for the very first time, incredibly excited for the prospects that my future holds. I now have just one year left of school, and after that, I plan to continue doing all I can to help, but even more importantly, continue learning and growing." - Samantha Smeaton

Past Participants of TC3 Public Health study abroad programs say:

"Travel abroad showed me how incredibly powerful nursing can be—that it can make vast improvements in people’s lives. Going to Nicaragua was, without exaggeration, one of the most important experiences of my life." - Margaret Ellis, ‘20

"I was 20 when I traveled to Nicaragua in January 2013, and not only was it was my first time out of the country it was also my first time seeing an underdeveloped country - that alone gave me so much perspective on all of the privileges we have in our country and healthcare system. It was my first exposure to a group of people without access to routine healthcare and the importance of even the basics. I remember getting so many BP readings with the systolic above 180 thinking I must be measuring it incorrectly. I have always carried that travel experience with me and it overall just gave me a glimpse into some of the intricacies of not only treating patients in a hospital setting and/or with health insurance and it definitely inspired the time I spent volunteering at the Ithaca Free Clinic." - Danielle Bean ‘13

colorful market