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’02 Public health and international development

After graduating, I went on to attend the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University where I attained my Masters of Public Health (MPH) in International Health with a focus on Community Development. During the summer between the two academic years, I worked in rural Guatemala, implementing a child survival program and training community health workers. It was a blast!

Today I work in Public Health and International Development, as Water For People's Regional Manager for Africa. I work to develop a program in Uganda while also supporting our programs in Rwanda and Malawi. Water For People works to get the appropriate stakeholders (government, NGOs, private sector, community members) to collaborate in order to provide water and sanitation to people that need it. We consider ourselves innovators—not innovating for innovation's sake, but looking at what problems exist, looking at the current solutions, and trying to understand why those solutions aren't working. We then ask, "How can we help the sector to do this better?"

STS has strongly influenced the way I think about things. I recognize that a problem is complicated, and that it has many different angles and influences. One of the things that I really liked about the STS program was that it encouraged us to think across our classes and across disciplines—to connect the dots and look at the bigger picture. Public health and international development is really all about that. I take what I know of biology and apply it to the social context in which I’m working to develop appropriate solutions. STS gave me a solid base to make those connections.

For me, an interdisciplinary approach makes so much more sense than studying a single discipline. I loved the ability to create a program that made sense for me. It gave me great ownership of my learning—I could choose a relatively easy route, or, I could really challenge myself. One of my favorite things about STS (and Vassar generally) is that I learned how to learn. That's a skill that has taken me far.