During my years at Elon I was lucky enough to have professors who allowed me to unite my passion for healthcare into my classes and schoolwork. When I was accepted to the Fellows program and I met Dr. (Cindy) Fair, I immediately felt a connection with her and I knew that she would be one of the few people who really helped me to develop my passion. She provided me with a lot of help and support, and encouraged me to pursue my interests.
The Fellows program allowed me to take time and really concentrate on thoroughly researching one topic that I loved. Through all of the steps and the junior year class, I learned what goes into a research project. I felt like I was supported by the faculty throughout the process and that I was able to approach it in a way that helped me feel like I was in control and not overwhelmed. I spent my last two semesters abroad, first in France and then in Ecuador, and I was able to use fieldwork from France in my final project. After completing all my classes in December 2006, I decided to stay in Ecuador and see what opportunities I could find for work.
While living in Ecuador from August 2006 to August 2008, I was part of three organizations. First, I worked at Asociación Vivir, an Ecuadorian NGO (Nong-overnmental organization) that works to promote healthy nutrition and alternative medicine among low-income and rural areas, as well as cleaning up urban areas to make them healthier. I was responsible for fundraising, workshops and the planning of one of the projects to construct an organic farmers market right outside of Quito. At the same time, I began an internship at the World Health Organization in Quito. During the internship, I wrote an application for a grant on occupational health that was later accepted. I was contracted to work as the project manager and led an international team of 15 people. Over the course of almost a year we set-up occupational health and safety committees in three hospitals (two in Quito, one in the Amazon), surveyed hundreds of workers on their occupational health knowledge and practices, and ran a workshop for more than 100 healthcare workers. Following the completion of the project, I worked for almost a year as a professor at the National Polytechnic Institute in Quito, where I taught students that included children and adults.
In August 2008, I moved to Boston to pursue my master’s degree in public health (MPH) specializing in international health at Boston University. I am studying part-time and working full-time at Massachusetts General Hospital as coordinator for clinical trials dealing with head and neck cancers. I plan to complete my MPH in summer 2010, then move back to Europe to work on infectious diseases, specifically dealing with neglected tropical diseases.