Track: Prevention Science
What is your professional background and where do you currently work?
Trained in anthropology, politics, and government, my early ambition was to improve the retention of high school and college students—particularly those that were first generation, low-income or disabled—through peer-mentoring structures.
Having found a niche in federally funded programs like Upward Bound and Student Support Services, I decided that my future would involve helping people directly.
After studying abroad in Tanzania and living amongst the Maasai, I combined my newfound interest in Africa with my desire to support communities striving to develop by joining the Peace Corps.
While volunteering in the water and sanitation sector in northern Ghana, I was introduced to what is now my arch nemesis, Dracunculus medinensis, a.k.a. Guinea worm disease.
Since 2005, I have supported The Carter Center-led efforts to eradicate the Guinea worm from the remaining countries affected by the epidemic.
I am currently the assistant director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program at The Carter Center. In this role, I provide technical and administrative support to South Sudan, Ethiopia, Chad, and Mali as they take the final steps to wipe out the debilitating parasite. Having spent the last decade working on Guinea worm eradication, I am at a loss for words to describe how exciting it is to be only a few years away from ZERO cases in the world.
Why did you enroll in the EMPH program?
Although I gained significant experience in public health serving in the Peace Corps and working at The Carter Center, when I returned to the United States in 2011, I knew that in order to better serve the eradication campaign, I would need to expand my public health knowledge and skill set.
Fully aware of Emory’s high accolades and academic pedigree, it didn’t take long for me to identify Rollins’ EMPH program as the best fit for me. With on-campus classes and distance learning provided by some of public health’s most esteemed leaders, the opportunity to learn and grow has been constant, despite the frequent international travel required by my job.
With a curriculum steeped in applied public health, Rollins has provided me with the necessary tools to sort through the complexity of health determinants, design targeted interventions, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of existing programs. The success of public health rests on our shoulders: We need to consolidate the lessons learned from the past and improve the areas where me may have fallen short.
What advice do you wish someone had given you prior to enrollment?As with many executive education programs, the value of the learning experience is heavily dependent on what you invest in the process. If I were to offer advice to prospective students, I would remind them that they should be prepared to actively contribute in class, not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of their classmates, too. Rollins is a strong advocate of collective learning, which is ever more relevant in today’s highly interconnected world.