International Health Senior Begins Research Experience in Ghana

AUGUST 11, 2016 – International health major Jack Sardinia (NHS’17) is spending the fall semester of senior year in Ghana – as a part of the Department of International Health’s Practical Experience Abroad Program.

The senior is placed at the Navrongo Health Research Centre in the northern part of the country – a region that, he says, “is very rural and a hotbed for malaria and high maternal and infant mortality rates.”

He is currently refining his research question, which may involve the impact of socioeconomic factors and technology on health or an analysis of the national insurance scheme. Sardinia took some time to share his thoughts about traveling abroad and his experiences at Georgetown so far.

NHS: How have you enjoyed Georgetown?

JS: Traveling and investigating the various approaches to health care around the world has become a passion of mine. As such, I realized early on freshman year that I was very blessed to be a part of such a program.

Due to scheduling accommodations made by the program, I was able to travel to Ghana on my own – to a country and continent I had never been to before. Still, my independent trek into the Accra airport and all the way to the northern border of Ghana was a challenge I was ready to take on. My stockpile of travel anecdotes that I have absorbed over the years from professors’ lectures seemed the best form of preparation. The professors at Georgetown have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Now that I am here, even in this new work environment within a very different culture, it has been easy for me to assimilate. It has felt oddly natural tagging along in the various surveillance and research projects around Navrongo – the technical language and methods were covered in the classroom long ago.

NHS: Tell us about some of your activities.

JS: At Georgetown, most of my time is taken up by rowing and my major. Recently, I was also able to work at the Grassroot Project, a non-governmental organization in D.C. that allows Division I athletes to teach middle school students about HIV/AIDS. 

In my spare time and when I am on campus, I host Georgetown’s hottest radio show – The Lazy Square Ups, which airs each Saturday from 6-8 p.m. I have been rowing for seven years now and was recruited to Georgetown to join the varsity lightweight program.

It is difficult to take off this semester of rowing as I am already missing the camaraderie of living and training with my teammates. Additionally, as my younger brother begins his freshman year at Georgetown as a rowing recruit and international health major, part of me does wish to be on campus.

But I know that this practical experience is invaluable.

NHS: What do you hope to do in the future?

JS: This experience has inspired me to continue to do something in this field after my time at Georgetown. I am looking into applying to various MPH programs around the country and would like to focus on health systems management in developing regions around the world.

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