International Health Senior Plans Mental Health Research in Australia

JUNE 26, 2015 – After a busy junior year working in child and human development and leading on-campus organizations, Erica Esposito (NHS’16) will be starting her senior year in Townsville, Australia, where she will research mental health with the Aboriginal community.

Esposito, who is an international health major, notes that she was attracted to the major as the curriculum provides a foundation in diverse areas such as culture, economics, nutrition, politics, and science.

“More importantly however,” she says, “I knew this major will allow me to improve the lives of people around the world, especially those living in developing countries.”

Exciting Extracurricular Work

As a founding member of Georgetown’s Global Microfinance Initiative (GGMI) and the special events and program chair of UNICEF-Georgetown, Esposito has sought to put her studies into application.

Over the past two years with GGMI, Esposito has become familiar with the economic aspects related to international health by consulting for microfinance institutions that give loans to individuals seeking to start their own businesses.

Through UNICEF-Georgetown, Esposito says she gained a wealth of experiences in community outreach.

“I became involved with UNICEF-Georgetown not only because I wanted to fundraise for the organization, but I also wanted to educate other Georgetown students on the health and sanitation issues that face these children every day,” she adds.

Unexpected Opportunities

During her sophomore year, Esposito pursued a study abroad opportunity in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she was one of 12 students selected to participate in a Kiswahili language and development studies program. However, when a tuberculosis outbreak in the private health clinic put an end to her internship, Esposito encountered an unexpected opportunity.

As she and her group were headed to an island off of the coast of Dar es Salaam, Esposito quickly struck up a conversation with a man from Rome, where her mother was also raised.  Upon learning about Esposito’s internship situation, he offered her and a friend an internship with him. Following, Esposito spent her summer consulting for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) North Africa Regional Branch of the United Nations.

“I always think about how different my experience abroad might have been if I hadn't said anything to him on the boat or if I didn’t have the courage to call him and ask if he needed some help with his work,” she says. “I learned that it’s important to put yourself out there and always be searching for new opportunities, even when you’re somewhere you might least expect to find one because you never know what good can come from it.”

Future Plans

As part of the Department of International Health’s practical experience abroad program, Esposito will be researching during the fall semester in Townsville, Australia, where she is excited to continue applying her studies to the field.

After graduation, Esposito hopes to work in the public health field for a few years either abroad or in the United States. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health.

Esposito credits her professors for inspiring her goals. “Many of the professors in the NHS are people I aspire to be like,” she says. “They motivate you with stories of their experiences and challenge you to think outside the box. … In this sense, many of them have not only been valuable teachers, but inspiring mentors as well.”

By Celeste Chen (C’14, G’16)

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