Community and global health major Erica Street, MPH ’16, admits she couldn’t have pointed out Swaziland on a map before traveling there last summer. But after hearing classmate Shannon Turner, MPH ’15, talk about her work in the south African country during the summer of 2014, Street knew she had to go there for her practicum.
Street traveled to Swaziland with Mason nursing professor R. Kevin Mallison, who has an ongoing research project there, and a cohort of graduate and undergraduate students. To make the three-week trip possible, she started a GoFundMe site and held a car wash as part of her fundraising strategy.
“It was really important to me that this trip not be voluntourism,” says Street. “I really wanted to do something that contributed, something that future students could build upon.”
Street and her fellow master of public health students conducted a survey on needle injection safety among the health care workers at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini. In the few weeks they were there, they were able to design the survey, collect data, and present their findings.
Street says she would love to return to Swaziland or one day work in another African country, but for now she has to get settled in Atlanta, where she will be working a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the next year.