July 12, 2017

First class of MPH students in practicums near and far

As an undergraduate, Hannah Young ’16 noticed a need for better sanitation in the low-income countries in which she studied abroad. That prompted her to pursue St. Kate’s Master in Public Health (MPH) in Global Studies — and recently spend five weeks in Rwanda, surveying water supplies at refugee camps throughout the East African country.

“Many of these issues I’ve seen are things that we take for granted in the U.S., like having clean water in our homes or having clean restrooms in schools,” said Young, who double majored in biology and public health. “Seeing these disparities and learning about the factors that influence them sparked my interest in global health and made me want to gain the skills I need to make a difference.”

Young is one of 15 students in St. Kate’s inaugural MPH in Global Studies class. The program launched in fall 2015, with a required 200-hour practicum. Students can complete it locally, with an organization that serves the health needs of refugees or immigrants, or internationally by partnering with a group that works on health issues in a low-to-middle income country.

“This is our first class to go out on practicums and, as a new program, we’re very excited about this,” said Christina Bliss Barsness, St. Kate’s MPH fieldwork coordinator. “Public health covers a wide range of health areas — infectious disease, environmental health, nutrition, maternal health, to name a few — so where students go and what they work on depends on their interests.”

And if 200 hours seems like a lot of time, well, it’s not, said Young. “I actually don't think it's enough,” she noted. “I wish I could have stayed longer because there is so much more I want to do — and could have done. Five weeks goes by too quick when you're doing something you love, with passionate and caring people, especially in a beautiful place like Rwanda.”

Here are the eight Katies who chose to complete their MPH practicum abroad, and the title of their projects:

Hannah Young; Kigali, Rwanda: “Water, sanitation and hygiene: performing a comparative analysis on national practices and practices in other countries”

Meghan Adams; Kabale, Uganda: “Nutrition and HIV outreach and evaluation of nutrition outreach project related to rabbit farming”

Justine de Jesus; Quito, Ecuador: “Reproductive and sexual health education and outreach”

Ashley Strusz; Tom Gato, Haiti: “Cervical cancer screening and breast-feeding practices”

Jaclyn Schuldt; Carmen Pampa, Bolivia, “Rural and community health outreach.”

Kunga Choney; Delhi, India; “Maternal, child health, HIV prevention”

Grant Erickson; Delhi, India: “Environmental health — air pollution”

Zelphia Peterson; Ndola, Zambia: “Maternal and child health”

The St. Kate's MPH students pursuing a practicum in the Twin Cities, and their organization:

Megan Precht and Fatma Mohamud; People's Center in Minneapolis

Huoda Elgahwagi; Wellshare international in St. Paul.

Mimi Mohamud; Minnesota Department of Health’s “Malaria Visiting Family Relatives” project

Annamarie Brennhofer; Serving the Whole Child

Adjoko Wilson and Fatuma Noor; Kusamala+ — a Zambia-based project with St. Kate’s Professor Mary Hearst.

Learn more about St. Kate’s Master in Public Health Global Health program.

By Pauline Oo