Harris alumna and M.D. works in Rwanda, featured on NY1

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Taking the Ephebic Oath far beyond her city, Sydney Butts, M.D. and Townsend Harris alumna ‘90, traveled with Face the Future Foundation to Rwanda earlier this year. On May 25, Dr. Butts was featured on the NY1 special, “NYC Doctors Help Fill In Gaps In Health Care In Africa.”

During her time in Rwanda, she contributed her specialized medical knowledge in otolaryngology—pertaining to the head, ears, nose, and throat. Dr. Butts was responsible for assisting native doctors and treating patients with related deformities and ailments.

“I haven’t gone on many mission trips and I was immediately excited to go,” she said.

While examining patients’ facial anomalies, Dr. Butts was impressed by both her “amazingly skilled colleagues” and the Rwandan doctors’ intuition in proposing treatments. She also recalled how “important it was to focus on good diagnosing skills.”

Noting the difficulties of those in underdeveloped nations, she said, “Whenever I am overwhelmed with work, or with anything really, I just remember: someone else, somewhere has it worse.”

Dr. Butts’s work on congenital deformities and facial trauma in Rwanda has been critically acclaimed and recognized, but the end product is what makes it “rewarding” for her. In her interview with NY1, she said that the people’s gratitude is evident when “patients hug you.”

Dr. Butts has always expressed an interest in medicine, and recognizes Harris as a factor that enabled her to work in the field.

“Townsend Harris taught me important values: to be a responsible person and a dedicated one. The humanities instillation in the school made me want to reach out to the world and be a better person.”

She adds, “What must be recognized is that Townsend is not just a ‘Humanities-centered school’; It is a science powerhouse!”

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