Four Years Later: Candace Glenn is inspired by volunteer work in Africa

Fourth-year UF College of Medicine student Candace Glenn knew she wanted to be a doctor before visiting northern Uganda and southern Sudan in 2007. 

But her experiences in Africa over the past four years opened her eyes to the specialty she wanted to pursue — dermatology.

The amount of need in Africa is so overwhelming, it can be hard to really change lives, Glenn said. Skin problems are rampant and although the conditions may seem minor to some, they cause a lot of misery for the people. Fortunately, many cases can be relieved fairly easily and inexpensively.

UF COM fourth-year student Candace Glenn sings with refugee orphans in Kajo Keji, South Sudan during her visit in 2007. Photo provided by Candace Glenn

“I saw dermatology as a way I can make a really practical difference over there,” she said. “It increases the quality of their lives and restores pride in one of the only things they own—their bodies and skin.” 

As graduation approaches, Glenn is hoping to match to a dermatology residency in the eastern U.S.

“It encompasses everything I like,” she said of the specialty. “I like the preventative aspects, the procedures, and the diversity of the patients and pathology.”

Growing up in the Orlando area, Glenn started a pre-medicine club in high school and majored in neuroscience at the University of Miami. She transferred to UF her junior year, after being accepted into the Junior Honors Medical Program.

The summer before starting her junior year at UF, she visited northern Uganda and southern Sudan for a little over a month with a group from Miami. They worked with an orphanage there, bringing them clothes and medical supplies.

“When I was over there, I kind of just fell in love but saw a lot of need,” Glenn said. “I returned home and immediately thought of going back.”

Malaria was a big problem there, exacerbated by limited housing and medical resources. Glenn coordinated several fundraisers that raised money to fund the construction of buildings to house the orphans and a small medical clinic.

In December 2007, Glenn returned to Africa to help with the construction of the buildings. She partnered with other aid organizations to staff the new clinic and find sponsors for the orphans.

In April, Glenn will return to Africa for a month, working with hospitals and bringing supplies to orphanages in Uganda and Tanzania.

Candace Glenn. Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Four years of medical school have also exposed her to other areas of medicine, like research. 

“As I progressed throughout each year in medical school, I am thankful for being exposed to so many exciting things that helped cultivate ideas for my future life and career,” Glenn said. “You learn about all the areas available to you and have the opportunity to find your individual passions within them.” 

One of her mentors is a dermatologist and UF assistant professor of medicine Christina L. Mitchell, M.D., who helped her start the dermatology interest group for students. 

“She’s just so energetic and very passionate about what she does,” Glenn said. “Seeing her work with her patients was one of the things that made me decide to do dermatology and hope to become the type of physician she is.” 

Engaged to UF otolaryngology resident Armon Jadidian, Glenn plans to practice in the U.S. but always wants to be able to carve out a few weeks a year for international work. 

“Medicine opens so many doors and touches so many lives,” she said.