I had the honor of graduating in the first class of HUBI in 2009. Humans are much more than our anatomy and physiology, so I was delighted to choose courses at the intersection of biology and public health, enabling me to gain a well-rounded understanding of humans and our health.
I developed a love for education at IU while serving in multiple teaching assistant positions. After graduation, I moved to South Korea to teach science and English to young children at an academy in Daejeon.
Subsequently, I enrolled at the Boston University School of Public Health and earned a scholarship to conduct preliminary research on the Birth to Twenty Study in South Africa, the largest and longest running cohort study on the continent.
After earning my Master’s of Public Health, I moved to Johannesburg, South Africa as a consultant for Management Sciences for Health. I currently serve as Team Lead for the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) project in Mokhotlong, Lesotho. We call it “Mphatlalatsane,” which is Sesotho for “Early Morning Star.”
Working with an amazing team on the ground and a brilliant team of researchers, we have reached nearly 2,000 people with our community health outreach and about 500 children and their caregivers with an 8-week holistic package of cognitive stimulation, health and nutrition messaging, and motivating efforts to seek HIV testing and treatment. The goal of the project is to make youth “school ready” by age 6, so that when formal education begins they are ready to reach their full potential.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the intervention also strengthens the sense of community among the caregivers, allows them a safe space to disclose their status if they so choose, and brings children closer to their caregivers by bonding over book-sharing. Once our researchers have generated the impact evidence from this randomized control trial, we hope to replicate throughout Lesotho and southern Africa.
As I look forward to my next adventure, I know that the educational path I have chosen is the right one for me.