Global Health Major Interns at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA After Research Practicum in Ghana

Posted in News Story

February 24, 2020 – Dahye Yoon (NHS’20) is a senior global health major. This semester, she is interning at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. In the fall, she completed the Department of International Health’s 12-credit research practicum in Ghana, where she researched postpartum depression.

Dahye Yoon (NHS’20) during her research practicum in Ghana

Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about Georgetown?

I was born and raised in the city of Chicago, and then I attended high school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Funny enough, I first learned about Georgetown when I heard that a Korean singer was admitted to the school. I also later attended North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN) in high school, and a graduate from my high school gave our group a tour of the campus. Georgetown was my mom’s dream school when she was in high school so she kept encouraging me to consider applying. Initially, I stubbornly resisted, but once I learned about the global health program, I was hooked and it became my top choice.

How are you enjoying the global health major?

I absolutely love it! Particularly due to the interesting classes, the expertise of the faculty members, and my classmates, being a part of this major has really affirmed my passion for global health and broadened my understanding of what health truly entails. I really appreciate that each class introduces us to a different aspect or field within the huge umbrella of global health. I think that the major’s approach to the concept of health parallels and reflects the Jesuit value of cura personalis.

Tell us about your research practicum abroad in Ghana.

I spent my research practicum at the Navrongo Health Research Centre (NHRC), which is located in a small rural town in northern Ghana, near the border of Burkina Faso. I conducted a qualitative study on knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes of health care workers on postpartum depression (PPD). 

PPD has serious implications on the development of the infant because the infant’s health outcome is very much dependent on the mother’s wellbeing. Not surprisingly, the results of my study have shown that especially at the primary level, health care workers do not know a lot about postpartum depression, which is concerning because the health system relies on the lower levels to detect PPD cases and refer those women to higher levels of care. This could mean that a lot of potential cases of PPD can go undetected.

NHRC is located right next to the district hospital, where I got the chance to shadow the different wards during my time there. I was able to sit in psychiatric consultations and the antenatal clinic, as well as observe several cesarean sections. I found my experience conducting my own research from start to finish – including interacting with the community and learning about the Ghanaian health system – invaluable.

What does your current internship at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA involve?

I currently intern in the Psychosocial Program at JRS. A lot of the work I’m doing is providing administrative and technical support for my supervisor. Right now, I’m helping her collect and analyze survey data to assess which of the countries in which JRS works actually integrate psychosocial support into their refugee programs. The best part of this internship is the exposure I get on the various issues surrounding refugees ,such as gender-based violence through the conversations I have with my supervisor and the literature reviews I conduct. Plus, I got to meet Father Leo J. O’Donovan, SJ [president of Georgetown University from 1989-2001], who is the JRS director of missions.

What other activities are you involved in at Georgetown?

For the first two years at Georgetown, I was an active board member of the Korean Student Association (KSA), through which I planned events and served as a liaison between the board and the general body members. I also did research with Professor Alayne Adams to identify challenges urban settings pose to mass drug administration campaigns for neglected tropical diseases. For the past three years, I was also a tutor for the Off-Campus Parent Program in the DC Schools Project. I am also currently volunteering at the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s surgical waiting room, attending to patients’ families. 

What are your plans for the future?

I plan on applying to medical school for this upcoming cycle. In the meantime, I am also trying to find a gap year job that is related to either community outreach, clinical research, or global/public health. My future goal is to ultimately combine my two interests in medicine and global health. I don’t know what that will specifically look like, but I have a lot of time between now and then to figure it out.