Sara Beste attended Boston College (‘05) as a pre-medical and theology student, and Creighton University School of Medicine (‘09). Spiritual formation and service opportunities were plentiful at both Jesuit universities, and in addition to her academic and professional training, Sara spent time leading Bible studies and retreats and volunteering in urban schools and Magis Clinic, Creighton University’s free clinic for homeless individuals. She additionally traveled to the Dominican Republic with Creighton’s Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC), establishing a temporary clinic in a mountain village.
Upon graduation, Sara began residency in the Bronx, working with a diverse population, including immigrants, patients living in poverty, and those navigating complex social situations. After completing her pediatric training in New York, Sara joined her husband Jason in Malawi, where they both worked in a rural village for Partners in Health, unique international NGO with foundations in liberation medicine and social justice. She served as the sole pediatrician in a district of over 100,000 people, treating children with malnutrition, malaria, HIV, parasites, and newborn illnesses.
Sara returned with Jason to Seattle in 2013, where she spent a year working for Seattle Children’s hospital before her acceptance as one of the first two Pediatric Global Health Fellows at the University of Massachusetts. While there, she completed a master’s degree in Public Health, spent three months working with the World Health Organization in Geneva working with the HIV team conducting research regarding guidelines for treatment of HIV infected newborns, and led a group of three pediatric residents on a month-long trip to Haiti to provide medical care in an orphanage.
Sara and Jason then spent six months in Mozambique, where Sara worked on a project with local doctors and nurses to increase HIV testing of newborns and begin treatment in a timely manner. She also assisted in a successful grant proposal to USAID for $25,000 in funding to continue work with HIV infected infants.
Currently, Sara and Jason have been recruited to return to Partners in Health, this time working in Liberia. Sara is the current Child Health Lead, working clinically with children who are experiencing illnesses far more severe than any other work through her career, and working to strengthen healthcare systems, develop pediatric programs, and assist in medical education. She deals daily with patients with extreme malnutrition, tumors, tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria, and experiences a high rate of neonatal mortality. However, many lives have been saved. Sara is working within her community to strengthen the malnutrition program to prevent more deaths related to starvation, to strengthen newborn care, and are working toward being able to treat Burkitts Lymphoma within the coming year. “It’s not just delivering healthcare overseas that we care about,” shares Sara. “It’s the spirit of the institution and their commitment to ‘healthcare as a right’ that resonates.”
“Sara Beste is quite simply the epitome of a Jesuit-educated person, woman, and leader,” shares Dr. Thomas Kelly. “She is building not just programs, but entire medical outreach systems to address the most challenging issues of malnutrition and infectious disease in the most remote places. Her work is rooted not only in her belief in social justice, but in her practice of Ignatian spirituality and constant discernment of calling.”