International Health Major Interns in Rwanda

NOVEMBER 19, 2012 - School of Nursing & Health Studies senior Nikita Srinivasan (NHS’13) is currently interning at the World Health Organization (WHO) country office in Kigali, Rwanda as part of the Department of International Health’s practical experience abroad program.

While in Rwanda, Srinivasan is completing research for FACE AIDS – a nonprofit organization that mobilizes young leaders to fight HIV/AIDS.

“FACE AIDS focuses on empowering youth and students with HIV,” said Srinivasan. “My research is focused on synthesizing existing research and identifying key gaps in the HIV/AIDS youth leadership landscape in Rwanda and East Africa. I am analyzing the scope of the existing programs and some of the issues they face.”

'Breathtakingly Beautiful'

In addition to her research, Srinivasan has participated in vaccination campaigns with WHO, attended the Regional Conference on Social Health Protection in East African Community, and connected with young professionals working on global health issues.

“I have really enjoyed participating and contributing to high-level discussions relating to the health care field,” said Srinivasan. “I have also greatly enjoyed going out into the field and seeing firsthand how public health actually works. Outside of work, I have really enjoyed meeting other young professionals, and seeing what my life could be like after college. Rwanda is breathtakingly beautiful, and I love being able to explore all it has to offer.”

Understanding the Intricacies

As her time in Rwanda draws to an end, Srinivasan reflects on how the experience will impact her future career in the health care field.

“I think working for the WHO country office has given me a fantastic aerial view of a health care system,” said Srinivasan. “My time in Rwanda has provided a unique perspective on the different aspects of the health care system and helped me to really understand some of the intricacies involved. I think this understanding is invaluable regardless of how you plan on getting involved in health.”

Expanding to New Countries

The practical experience program provides students with the opportunity to apply the research methods and global health concepts taught in the classroom to real-life international settings during a semester-long internship.

This year, the department added two countries to the program – Rwanda and Ethiopia. Additional countries in the program include Australia, Brazil, Ghana, India, the Philippines, and Tanzania.

By Alicia Lee