In October 2018, less than a month after graduating with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, Alan Bertolero ’15 spontaneously moved to the Dominican Republic to work as a volunteer.
“I was feeling an urge to do something more—more impactful and far-reaching. When I saw this opportunity to help people using what I learned in graduate school, I took it,” said Bertolero.
As a volunteer, Bertolero supervises a spine care clinic in Moca, Dominican Republic that offers free or low-cost care to the local community. It's operated by World Spine Care, a global charity that builds sustainable, integrated, evidence-based spine care centers all over the world.
He is able to help people who have been suffering from chronic pain and unable to afford care, “In a way, not working for money [as a volunteer] helps keep my focus on why I decided to drop everything and come here: to serve this underserved community. It helps me remember that this is something bigger than myself,” he says.
Bertolero’s interest in chiropractic medicine started while he was a biology student studying kinesiology at Holy Names University. Bertolero came to HNU to play basketball but had to quit the team his sophomore year, after sitting out the entire season due to chronic knee pain.
“I saw lots of doctors to help me with my knee pain. The first one to look at something besides my knee as a factor in my knee pain was my chiropractor.
This helped me figure out what I wanted to do for a career.” After years of rehab, he is now able to play basketball again pain-free.
Bertolero feels passionate about his work and the difference it can make in people’s lives. He attributes his success to going all in even in new and unfamiliar situations, “I remember Coach Omar Sanchez used to say, ‘Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ I definitely took that to heart.”
When he comes back from the Dominican Republic in October 2019, Bertolero wants to focus his career on helping athletes overcome injury. He says, “I think most people can accept failing at something, but never getting the opportunity to try [because of an injury]. That’s something I don’t want others to have to go through.”
This story first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of HNU Today