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A Magician of all Trades

Kim Comer ’09, a logistician for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), assists with MSF’s anti-malaria efforts in Chad and hopes next to be a first responder for crises such as the coup in South Sudan. This is how she made the shift from cruise ships to clinical crises.

Early Days

After graduation, Comer worked behind the scenes for the Philly Fringe Festival, “turning warehouses into theaters,” and toured with Pig Iron Theatre Co. nationally and abroad. Then production management for cruise ships beckoned this versatile theater major.

New Directions

A broken wrist delayed her career switch, but the self-proclaimed nomad didn’t slow down. She moved to Perrysville, Ark., for four months to volunteer with Heifer International before roaming westward to earn wilderness-EMT certification in Wyoming. Then came the Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Festival, where she logged 100-hour workweeks, before returning to Philadelphia.

Pivot Point

In Philly, a cruise line representative called—could she leave for Ketchikan, Alaska, tomorrow? A few days later, Comer embarked on a three-year tour of the world’s harbors—living on a ship and helping international colleagues produce daily on-board shows for six-month periods.


In June 2013, after a yearlong application process with MSF, Comer landed her first assignment. As a logistician, “a magician of all trades,” as she calls it, her duties range from replacing light bulbs in the expat living compound to quality control in MSF clinics. Adjusting to life in Africa has meant redefining just about everything she thought she knew.