Majors: B.A., Health: Science, Society and Policy & International and Global Studies
Graduation: Spring 2010
Hometowns: Los Angeles, CA and Carson City, NV
Previous Education: Carson High School
Brandeis Clubs/Organizations: Students for Environmental Action, Gymnastics Club, Phonathon Student Supervisor, Yoga Club
“Its always exciting to learn that what you spend hours in classrooms, the library, and in front of your computer learning is ‘real’”.
Q: What issues are of vital importance to you?
A: Social justice, a term I use with hesitance because of how broad it is, is the overarching issue that is important to me. I am very interested in how social justice relates to health. I am particularly interested in women’s and children’s health, specifically those aspects of health that are strongly affected by inequalities.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your field work experience. What is it like working in Sri Lanka?
A: Working in Sri Lanka is one large lesson on Sri Lankan culture. Before coming here, I experienced living, studying, and researching outside the U.S. and so there have been few “shocking” experiences, but things are quite different here. The biggest difference, and possibly hardest to get use to, is the time it takes to do things. My research pace goes through phases. I will get nothing done for three weeks and then all the sudden have a domino of connections. If I really wanted to be persistent I could probably reduce the down time, but the extra time allows me to experience various aspects of the country, including staying with a family during the Hajj festival and visiting a tsunami affected area that has been rebuilt through foreign funds.
I came to Sri Lanka with a large understanding of what Public Health Midwives (PHM) do. They are not traditional midwives, meaning they do not attend births. Their role is to provide prenatal care for women, ensure an attended birth is possible, provide family planning support, and immunize children. Since arriving, I have learned of the limitations of PHM in providing more than their roles due to their education level, language barriers (many speak only Sinhala), and transportation. However, Sri Lanka is in an epidemiological transition, which means the burden of disease is shifting from communicable (ie malaria, tuberculosis, measles) to non-communicable (ie diabetes, cardiovascular). This means that the role of the PHM must also shift.
Q: How did your classwork reinforce what you’re doing out in the world?
A: I am continually amazed at how well my HSSP major has helped me in my research. The courses provided me with an amazing understanding of how health systems work, what public health interventions are, the various determinants of health, and how epidemiology works. Without an the understanding of public health that my HSSP courses gave me, I would probably still be spending time in the library doing primary research on basic public health concepts. As a double major, I also took a great deal of courses on international development. The theories and concepts discussed in those courses are also continually reinforced here. Its always exciting to learn that what you spend hours in classrooms, the library, and in front of your computer learning is “real”.
Q: What do you think it means to be a “global citizen”?
A: I think we are all global citizens – maybe not good citizens but citizens nonetheless. We all purchase goods from around the world, and I believe this makes citizens of each country interconnected. As such, I believe we are responsible for being consumers of those goods. Being able to benefit from products made across the world is a wonderful thing. However, though it is great to enjoy a cup of tea at a low price, I think it is important to be conscious of where that cup of tea is coming from.
Q: What are your plans for after this adventure?
A: I really love research, maybe because most of it for me has involved traveling. I would like to explore the U.S. I am more familiar with other parts of the world than I am with anything in between Boston and Nevada, which I would like to change. Hopefully, I’ll be able to work a while as a research assistant or a similar job and eventually go on to get my MPH, after that remain in the field of public policy.
Click here for an excerpt from Danielle’s blog.
Update 2/25/2011: Read the article that Danielle wrote for The Island, a Sri Lankan English language newspaper.