The Cuba Connection | Coppin State University

The Cuba Connection

Published Tuesday, November 19th, 2019

Coppin faculty and students visit Cuba to study health and healing in a culture which focuses on universal health care and education.

Coppin Students studying in Cuba.The Cuban study aboard experience was an international metamorphosis for two of CSU students. Keith Birckhead, Jr. and Femi Olorunfemi, both class of 2019 and interested in healthcare, were given the opportunity to visit Cuba. Keith and Femi were part of a convoy organized by adjunct faculty, Tramar Murdock, M.D., and several of her colleagues.

In 2017, Dr. Murdock, Garry Jennings, MD (QOL Pain Management), Samuel Springer, D.M.A. (Morgan State University), and Deborah Patterson, MA (Italian Gusto) traveled to Cuba. “We travelled to Cuba, to establish a respected and educational relationship,” said Murdock. As a result of their trip, during the following two years, she and her colleagues formed a collaborative group, Music, Art and Medicine – Healing (MAM...Healing). “We felt all three specialties were associated with health (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).”

In May 2019, Dr. Murdock sponsored two Coppin Students to experience health and healing in a culture which focuses on universal health care and education. “Students were selected, not just by GPA, but by the following criteria — a sincere passion for health care; emotional maturity; strong work ethic and discipline; optimistic personalities; good grades and participation in the classes I teach; verbal communication skills; and tolerance and compassion.”  

Experience and exposure are common in a formula for diversity and inclusion. While in Cuba, the group visited two cities, Pinar Del Rio and Havana. In Pinar del Rio, Keith and Femi visited the University of Pinar del Rio and the Pinar del Rio Hospital. They delved a bit into Cuban medicine and medical law. Explore polyclinics (a hospital and clinic), and pharmacies. They also spent time with fourth year medical students and practicing physicians. “This experience and exposure allowed them to appreciate, strengthen, broaden, and exchange cultural and diverse ideas regarding health care and medicine,” explained Murdock.

In Havana the students conducted a comparative study of clinics and pharmacies seen in Pinar Del Rio and America. They found that medicine is more holistic in Cuba and that healthcare is free for Cuban citizens. “In Havana we also went to a dentist’s clinic and learned about the various procedures, applications and treatment of patients.” 

There were opportunities for Keith, Femi, and the coalition to encounter the Cuban culture. “We visited the Yoruba headquarters in Cuba and saw an amazing, breathtaking presentation on the Orisha and African tradition that survives in Cuba. We visited Capitolio (the Capital building), the Department of Communication, art galleries, and government buildings,” shared Murdock.

“Dr. Murdock’s recent educational journey to Cuba is a powerful example of the commitment of our adjunct faculty in expanding borders beyond the classroom to provide practical and relevant educational experiences for CSU students. It also provides a model for developing further international and global experiences for our students.  

Dr. Murdock has recently established the same type of relationship for “her” Coppin students with Brazil.

To find out more about Coppin’s Study Abroad program, contact The Office of International Programs, located in the Grace Jacobs Building, Rm. 413. Office hours are 9a.m. – 5p.m. Call 410-951-3392 or email