Human Science Major Returns From Research Experience in New Zealand

AUGUST 28, 2015 - As she begins her senior year, Beemnet Neway (NHS’16) brings with her a wealth of experiences gleaned from a summer spent abroad in Australia and New Zealand.

A human science major, Neway is passionate about issues related to health disparities. Last summer, she participated in the Summer Opportunity for Achievement in Research - Minority Health and Health Disparities (SOAR-MHHD) Program.

And this summer, Neway worked as part of a public research team in New Zealand through the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health Multidisciplinary International Research Training Program (MIRT).

Health Outcomes

Neway spent her time examining the links between environmental sustainability and human health, homing in on different cultural approaches to health. She observed firsthand current government efforts to improve health outcomes for the indigenous community in Australia.

“I met with several indigenous community leaders who are using their traditional model of health, which involves a broader sense of well-being and looks at the health of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual components and one’s connection to land,” Neway says. “By treating the whole person, they are addressing various health determinants across political, economic, and social boundaries.”

Neway’s following visit to New Zealand highlighted the critical role that social factors, such as mainstream integration and successful outreach, play in health outcomes.

“Like the indigenous Australian model of health, Maori culture also structures health around the well-being of spiritual, mental, and family components,” she says. “However, the Maori people, unlike the Aboriginal communities of Australia, are well integrated into mainstream society. Initiatives designed to improve Maori health utilize integrated public health approaches based on where people live, work, and play.”

Holistic Approaches

By studying, researching, and working in the global health arena through a more sociological perspective, Neway has come away with a deeper understanding of how global health issues may be better relieved.

After graduation, Neway will be taking a gap year and plans on working in research focused on global health. Following her gap year, she plans on applying to medical school and pursuing a career in global health. 

“My time in both countries has shown me the importance of implementing a holistic approach to health to effectively address health disparities,” she notes.

By Celeste Chen (C’14, G’16)

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