IH Major Engages Local Community, Plans Global Experience

FEBRUARY 21, 2013 - Nadia Thura (NHS’14) says that Georgetown University has been a place where she can explore her interest in social justice.

The junior international health major from Falls Church, Va., has created community connections through involvement in Georgetown’s longstanding D.C. Schools Project, as well as her major’s community-based internship experience.

“So many people are passionate about social justice issues here at Georgetown,” says Thura, a pre-med student who is also on the leadership team of the Minority Health Initiative Council at the School of Nursing & Health Studies. “That has been a huge part of my experience. I hope to continue this focus in my career.”

Literacy and Computer Skills

The D.C. Schools Project – housed in the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service – is a literacy organization that has reached out to Washington’s immigrant community since 1984.

During her first and second years at Georgetown, Thura was an English as a second language (ESL) tutor at the elementary school level and through the parent program.

This year, she serves as a community liaison for the parents program and has launched, after receiving feedback from the community, a basic computer skills class for participants.

“There’s a high need for computer literacy,” she says. “This semester is our pilot run. If it goes well, we could continue and expand it. I am really into building partnerships and getting to know the organizations and the schools. The project really encourages creativity and new ideas.”

Spanish Catholic Center

As part of her major, Thura is completing a community-based internship this semester at the Spanish Catholic Center, which offers medical and dental clinics, job training, English classes, and a food pantry.

The student travels to the center’s Mount Pleasant site for the internship and spends 10-12 hours each week there.

“I am in the social services department,” she says. “I am working with a staff member who is involved in the food program and in identifying parents we might refer to the medical program. I am also working on developing a newsletter that has tips on a healthy lifestyle and information about our services.”

Undergraduate Research

In addition to her community-based service and internship, Thura has pursued research opportunities by working with Z. Jennifer Huang, PhD, associate professor of international health, and through summer internships at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Md.

She has co-authored a manuscript in Epidemiology & Infection, a Cambridge University Press journal, and presented at the 19th International AIDS Conference. Another co-authored article has been accepted for publication, and she and others are currently working on a third.

“I feel like a detective, finding gaps in research and taking a bunch of numbers and seeing what they might be saying,” she says.

Broad Impact

Thura says the major has provided a broad perspective on health issues and she looks forward to conducting her international health practical experience abroad this coming fall in the Philippines.

“International health drew me because it allows you to have broad impact,” she says. “You can focus on a variety of aspects of health, and it is a very unique undergraduate major – a public health focus on a worldwide scale.”

By Bill Cessato