Who I Am
- Community Advocate
- RPCV Rwanda, 2016-18
Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work Candidate, May 2024
A Bit About Me
I am a Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work student entering my third and final year of my program. For the past two years, I’ve been working with Dr. Jessica Elf in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences studying the effects of air pollution on cardiopulmonary health in people living with HIV in the Northwest Province of South Africa. Prior to my acceptance into the program, I worked as a youth educator at Bushpigs Outdoor Education Centre from 2009-10 in Modimolle, South Africa which offered environmental education to young people from urban centers in South Africa. Inspired by my experience, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Biological Anthropology with a minor in African Studies from Boston University in 2015. From 2018-18, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda where I supported Gacurabwenge Secondary School as an English Teacher and Teacher Trainer. In between, I’ve worked in immigrant and refugee advocacy, ESL education, and for the Social Security Administration. Outside of my program, I support affordable housing advocacy at the state and local levels. I also support the work of FOCO Café, a local mutual aid organization that supports people through food.
What I Hope To Do
As part of our study with Dr. Elf’s research group, participants are asked to wear conspicuous personal air pollution monitoring devices in their homes and around their communities. I worked with Dr. Elf and the research team to develop a survey that will help us better understand the impacts of wearing such devices in a country where people experience stigma due to their HIV status. Our aim is to utilize the results and the expertise of the participants to inform future best practice in research that uses personal monitoring devices when partnering with vulnerable populations. In my future roles, I hope to leverage my skills and experience to champion community-based and participatory approaches to research. My personal research interest is in collective trauma and collective healing with a focus on communities that are living with the effects of colonization.
My Personal Thanks
I have been incredibly fortunate to have been taken on as a trainee by Dr. Jessica Elf. Over the past two years, Dr. Elf has gifted me with unflinching support, guidance, and patience. It is impossible to overstate the impact that Dr. Elf and the opportunities that she made possible have had on my graduate experience. A deep thank you to Bekiwe Ncwana, Tshegofatso Setlhare, Joseph Lechalaba, Yoliswa Mphetshwa, Neil Martinson, and Mr. Moloantoa for welcoming me to Matlosana, South Africa last summer. Thank you to the entire research team at the Perinatal HIV Research Unit in South Africa for your support and patience as I navigate my first research project. Finally, thank you to the Africa Center for awarding me this scholarship and providing us with an opportunity to share our work.