Throughout the 2010-11 seasons, the Southern Conference will feature a student-athlete from around the league in a series called the SoCon Spotlight. This will be an opportunity to see what student-athletes are doing while they are not in the classroom or competing in their sport. The question and answer session focuses on student-athletes that serve as outstanding conference representatives through their community service efforts.
This SoCon Spotlight features College of Charleston's Hayley Harrell, a junior from Charleston, S.C. and member of the Cougars' volleyball team. Majoring in both psychology and biology, Hayley plans to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate studies. Outside of her duties as a student-athlete, Hayley focuses her time on giving back to others through medical mission trips to Honduras, participating through church programs and her family's Service4Honduras projects.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Hayley Harrell. I'm a junior on the College of Charleston volleyball team. I'm from Charleston, S.C., and I am a psychology and biology double major. I'm a defensive specialist on the team. What I like best about playing at the College is my team, our coaches and the location of the city. It's amazing, and we all have a lot of fun together. It's been a great experience.
Being from Charleston, did you always plan to attend C of C?
I never thought about going to College of Charleston. I assumed I would go somewhere else since I went to high school downtown, just three blocks down from campus. I thought college would be time for me to get out [of Charleston]. When I got the opportunity to play volleyball here, I researched the school and decided that it really was the place for me. I love it and don't regret coming here at all.
Talk about the mission work you've done in Honduras.
The church I attend in Charleston is St. Phillip's Church. Every year they do a mission trip down to Honduras. It's something the church has done for about 20 years. A couple years ago my mom and I went, and we got involved in creating our own group to go down for medical purposes. My mom is a doctor, and I am interested in medical field as well. The mission center is in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. A lady named Suzy McCall, a South Carolina native, went to St. Phillip's and started the Latin American Missionary and Bible Institute (L.A.M.B.) in Honduras in 1999 after a major hurricane (Mitch) hit. That's how the program through my church got started.
Tell us about your most recent trip to Honduras back in June 2010.
My trip in June was my fifth time in Honduras since I first started during my senior year in high school. In February, I went with my mom, and we organized the whole trip. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to go again in June. My sister and I met up with a different group of doctors from Jackson, Tenn. We did some medical work, and there was another group [within ours] that did construction work.
There were about five or six doctors in our group as well as a dentist. We would go out to rural or poor areas of the city and see 200-300 patients each day. They would tell us what ailments they have, aches or pains, or if they have any kind of fungus. We give them medicine or antibiotics if we're able and treat general wounds they might have. A lot of them needed teeth pulled, so the dentist stayed busy the entire time. We really just try to alleviate any of the pain they might have without access to general medicine that we have here in the U.S.
Now that you're back in the States, what do think made the biggest impact on you?
What's most interesting to me is that, for instance, when I have a headache, I can take ibuprofen. They have no access to that kind of medicine, not even for simple pains like a stuffy nose, sore throat or dry eyes. Dry eyes are a big problem down there, but there isn't Visine or any kind of saline drops. I've seen how much we take for granted how easy it is for us to ease our own ailments.
What attracts you to this type of work?
I'm really interested in medicine and would like to go to medical school after I graduate. When we are in Honduras, the people are so happy to see us. The people are in so much pain, but we can go down there and brighten their day, smile a little bit and alleviate some of their pain.
I've always been interested in pursuing something like Doctors Without Borders. I plan to continue going to Honduras until I do become a doctor and as long as I can. I want to keep doing whatever I can to give back to people less fortunate than I am.
How can people find out more about the work being done in Honduras?
The L.A.M.B. Institute in Honduras has a website (www.lambinstitute.org) . My mom, sister and I also created a Facebook page called Service4Honduras that has pictures and information on it.
Speaking of helping people, you were just asked to donate bone marrow?
About a year ago, there was a bone marrow drive at the College of Charleston. On the way to my lab, my roommate convinced me to register. As they took a swab of my cheek, the lady said there was about a one in 150,000 chance that I would ever be a match for someone. About a week ago, I got a phone call saying that I am a match for a six year old girl with Fanconi's anemia, which is a disease that prevents her from making any new red blood cells. It's 100 percent fatal unless I donate my marrow to her. I'm really excited about it. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to help someone like that.
She lives in another country, and that country does not allow her name to be released. I will be able to send a letter along with my marrow, and I'll get updates after the first and third month on her progress.
You grew up with a family full of athletes. Your dad played baseball and football at the University of Georgia, and your sister Jamie plays tennis for the College of Charleston. Did you always want to play a sport in college?
Sports have surrounded my entire life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love volleyball and love that my sister plays tennis. It's been a healthy competition between us. My dad has always wanted us to play sports. Our family loves them, and even though we've always been encouraged to do whatever interests us, I'm thankful this is the path that I've found.
What's your favorite part about competing in the Southern Conference?
I really love every team in the SoCon. Every team competes really hard, and we're all really big rivals. It's a really fun atmosphere all the time.