UVA Students to Tackle Global Health Issues

UVA Students to Tackle Global Health Issues

Area students among 52 scholarship recipients.

From studying honey as a wound-healing additive in Rwanda to assessing the effect of mobile banking on women in rural India, 52 University of Virginia students will use Center for Global Health scholarships this summer to address public health problems in the far-flung corners of the globe.

The UVA center’s University Scholar Awards, awarded by a faculty committee, offer up to $5,000 in grants for individual and group projects. This year, the center has funded 20 projects in seven countries, which include a water purification program in South Africa, an assessment of emergency medical responses in Guatemala and a review of breastfeeding education in Rwanda. Some projects are built on previous years’ work, including creating a virtual support network for men living with HIV in South Africa, assessing solar water-heating technology at a hospital in Guatemala and studying how Ugandan patients determine which doctors are legitimate and can be trusted.

The scholars, who come from multiple schools and disciplines, as well as UVA’s College at Wise, will conduct six- to eight-week intensive, mentored research projects, most at partnership sites, where they will be engaged in community-based projects with long-term connections to UVA.

The research scholarships, the Center for Global Health’s largest single program, encourage students to design, propose and conduct interdisciplinary projects combining their interests, concerns and ideas. Students travel to Latin America, Africa, Asia and communities in the Unites States, where they build relationships and develop research, communication and other life skills, said Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, director of the Center for Global Health.

“The CGH University Scholar awardees represent an outstanding group of students committed to learning about and enhancing understanding of challenges to health and well-being in low resource settings,” Dillingham said. “Many of them also work to identify, develop and evaluate potential solutions in collaboration with the communities hosting them. Each year I think that the quality of the applications can’t possibly get much better, and each year, it does.”

“While conducting their projects, these students are outstanding ambassadors for the University, learning to approach communities with curiosity, humility and respect,” Dillingham said. “The students learn about the communities’ health challenges and ideas for addressing them, and about how they, the students, can partner with the communities to imagine, design and implement solutions. This experience is transformative for the CGH scholars, building skills not only in global health research and evaluation, but also in cultural humility, teamwork and resilience.”

This year’s scholars and projects include the following students from the area:

  • Eliza Campbell of McLean, a third-year public policy and foreign affairs major in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, who will evaluate health sector sustainability for Rwanda’s Ministry of Health.

  • Ella Shoup of Falls Church, a third-year political and social thought major; Vijay Edupuganti of Portland, Ore., a second-year computer science major; and Sasheenie Moodley, of Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa, a fourth-year global development studies major who is dual-enrolled as a Master in Public Health candidate, will research creating a virtual support network for men living with HIV in South Africa.

  • Korey Marshall of Atlanta, and J.P. Baker of Vienna, both first-year medical students, who will seek to implement an electronic medical record system in a Guatemalan hospital.

  • Mariana Forero of Rocky Mount, N.C., a second-year student in the College; Hala Al Kallas of McLean, a second-year pre-med cognitive science major; Yolande Pokam Tchuisseu of Takoma Park, Md., a third-year cognitive science major with a concentration in neuroscience; and Kaelor Gordon of Manassas, a third-year human biology major, who will research the feasibility and cultural acceptability of an at-home cervical cancer screening method in Bluefields, Nicaragua.

  • Mary Long of Great Falls, a second-year English and foreign affairs major; Jordan Arnold of Lexington, a first-year student in the College; Claudia Muratore of Fairfax, a second-year English and foreign affairs major; and Ashwanth Samuel of Olathe, Kansas, a first-year student in the College, who will investigate mobile banking and gender dynamics in southern India, focusing on microfinance.

Porter Nenon of Charlotte, N. C., a fourth-year political and social thought major; Adam Jones of Cleveland, a second-year economics and computer science major; William Henagan of Atlanta, a third-year history major; and Kaija Flood of Reston, second-year master of public policy student in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, who are examining education platforms for refugee students, using messaging as a tool for learning and performing data tasks, and bettering the lives of those performing such work.