DegreeMaster of Science in Global Health ’16
After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a BS in public health, I came straight to Duke to focus on global health. I’d always been interested in genetics and neglected diseases so when I learned about an opportunity to work on sickle cell disease, it seemed like a great fit.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder where red blood cells form in sickled, or crescent, shapes that don’t carry enough oxygen throughout the body. Cells can stick together and block blood vessels, causing severe pain. It is a chronic disease that can be fatal.
Our project team’s overall goal is to make a model explaining the differences in severity between sickle cell patients—which varies greatly—and ultimately help improve health outcomes and resources. This summer I’m in Africa doing fieldwork for my master’s thesis. I’m interviewing sickle cell patients and families in Cape Town, South Africa and Yaoundé, Cameroon to understand the differences in social support, treatment resources and general burden of disease on health outcomes.
My thesis work is a smaller part of our Bass Connections team’s larger model. I like being part of a team and knowing my work will not only stand on its own but also contribute to a bigger goal. I also really enjoy being able to meet students and faculty from other programs on campus, outside of the Global Health Institute. We have international collaborators from South Africa, Cameroon and Jamaica who Skype into our team meetings as well; I even had the opportunity to work with some of them this summer.
Through our team I’ve also learned about different classes on campus that were of interest to me and related to the project. Last semester I took Health in the African Diaspora with the other students on the project and next semester I will be a teaching assistant for Race, Genomics and Society.
Bass Connections is a great way to work toward the same goals with people in different disciplines from all over the world. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I’ve already learned so much from the collaborations and experiences made possible by this project.