By Alejandra Navarrete (NCAI Assistant to the Director and Alumni Relations)
Since her graduation from NCA in 2004, Dr. Jill (Aragón) Neely has certainly been busy. After completing her undergraduate degree at Samford University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and subsequently received a scholarship to the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, she received the prestigious George and Barbara Burrows Award for her efforts in medical missions. She then completed her residency in Internal Medicine with a Global Health emphasis at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). During this time, she was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Gorgas Institute for Tropical Medicine in Peru.
Dr. Neely currently serves as the Global Health Fellowship Director at UAB Medical Center, one of the largest public hospitals in the US, where she also works as a hospitalist. Through Global Health Fellowship, Jill trains physicians that want to be missionaries in other countries by teaching them the basic skills they need in order to become successful medical missionaries. “It’s the only fellowship of its kind and I am very happy that I was chosen to lead it. God gave me the vision to start this fellowship, and it has been amazing to see how He has opened so many doors already.” In addition to training doctors, she has dedicated the last 14 years of her life to organize medical teams that come and serve in Nicaragua by providing medical, dental and eye care. These teams work with local churches, and many of the patients end up becoming active members of these churches.
When asked about her days in NCA, Jill brings back the memory of driving by the school all the time, “I used to pray that one day I would study there and when I was in the 9th grade, God answered my prayers in a powerful way…it was the education and people that I met there that altered my future for the better. I know for a fact that without NCA, I would not be where I am. Special thanks to Mr. Kynast, Joel Huyser, and Eric Loftsgard for giving me a chance when I could barely speak English!”
Published on March 4, 2019. Written by Alejandra Navarrete. Photos courtesy of Jill Neely.