Women's Health Center of Expertise awards summer grants to seven UC undergrads

June 6, 2017

Seven University of California undergraduates pursuing summer internships or fellowships in areas related to women's health, gender and empowerment have been awarded scholarships to advance their work in maternal health, domestic violence, mobile health technology, education for adolescent girls and empowerment of single mothers.

The UC Global Health Institute's Women's Health, Gender and Empowerment Center of Expertise (WHGECOE) awarded the $1,500 stipends to support students pursuing unpaid internships and fellowship. Students may use the awards for travel, project expenses or stipends.

The seven students, representing UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UC San Diego, are working in the US, eastern and southern Africa and India.

Each student works with mentors from the WHGECOE and will make a presentation about their project at the COE's winter retreat in the fall of 2017.

2017 Summer Scholarship Recipients

Rahel Demissie

Rachel Demissie UC Berkeley Interdisciplinary Studies Field major

How agriculture can reduce maternal mortality

My project aims to study the role of livelihood programs in improving maternal health. It will take place at Mary Joy Development Association, in its urban office of Addis Ababa and its rural office of Hawassa. Through participant observations and interviews, it will compare agriculture programs with economic programs, and seek to find the viable solution to reducing maternal malnutrition.
COE mentor: Dr. Ndola Prata

Emily Eddy

Emily Eddy UC Davis Human Development major

Helping adolescent girls to receive secondary education in Zimbabwe

The TESE foundation provides scholarships to students in rural Masvingo, Zimbabwe to allow local children to attend school. However, young girls who receive the scholarship miss school due to their menstrual periods. Without access to sanitary pads, these girls often fall behind and eventually drop out altogether. I will work with the founder of TESE foundation and travel to Zimbabwe to establish workshops for young girls in order to break down the stigmas surrounding women's health and teach the girls how to sew reusable menstrual pads with locally sourced cloth. This will allow them to attend school even while they are on their period. Afterwards, I will create a short documentary video to details my time spent in Zimbabwe.
COE mentor: Dr. Rana Marie Jaleel

Michelle Gregorio

Michelle GregorioUC San Diego Global Health major

How Structures in South Asia Stigmatizes Women's Reports on Violence, and How Concealing Violence Affects Aspects of Their Physiology

The project aims to discover how religion, culture, politics, and economics stigmatize the reports of domestic violence in South Asian women. Additionally, the project attempts to find out how concealing abuse affects aspects of women's physiology that pertain to mental health, epigenetics, and the immune system through a theoretical framework. I will participate in UCSD's Global Seminar in India through the Medical Anthropology and Global Health program.
COE mentor: Dr. Jennifer Wagman

Erika Mey

Erika Mey UC Irvine Sociology & Public Health major

Identifying Risk and Protective Factors of Adverse Birth Outcomes Among Cambodian Refugees

The long history of political conflict in Cambodia has consistently exposed successive cohorts of Cambodians to extreme levels of stress. We examine how this stress affects the health of the next generation by examining the perinatal outcomes of women who were born in Cambodia but since migrated to the U.S. and live in one U.S. state, New Jersey. We will identify factors at the individual- and neighborhood-levels that confer risk and offer protection against adverse birth outcomes among their offspring. We will draw comparisons between this population and infants born to native-born Cambodians who share a similar cultural orientation but were not exposed to the same political conflict.
COE mentor: Dr. Jennifer Buher Kane

Janice Mwaniki

Janice Mwaniki UC Davis Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major

Empower single mothers in urban slum in Nairobi, Kenya

The project aims to empower single mothers living in the lower part of Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa, through motivational talks and workshops on topics such as entrepreneurship, home growing skills, reproductive health and how to prevent HIV and malaria. Working with AMREST, the project will also assist the participants to apply for Kenyan National Youth Empowerment program to acquire loans and start their own businesses.
COE mentor: Dr. Jessica Draughon Moret

Adetutu Sadiq

Adetutu Sadiq UC Berkeley Public Health major

Assessing the effectiveness of mobile health programs and telemedicine services on maternal and child health in the Bay Area

The research project aims to investigate user perceptions of mobile health interventions in maternal health such as Text4Baby. Throughout the summer 2017, I will conduct qualitative interviews with pregnant women in the Richmond and Oakland area who use Text4Baby or any other computerized maternal health service. After conclusion of interviews, I will analyze the data to make sound conclusions about user perceptions of mobile technology interventions in maternal health. The research attempts to shed light on the role mobile health plays in improving maternal and infant child health, its versatility, and ability for it to be used in different settings, including rural and urban areas. The findings will help future development of health care programs to better suit the needs of pregnant women, mothers and infants in the Bay Area.
COE mentor: Dr. Jason Corburn

Holly Wertman

Holly Wertman UC Berkeley Public Health major

Improving maternal and child health in Uganda

The aim of this project is to help close the gap between Oyam and the rest of Uganda in terms of maternal, neonatal, and child mortality rates by working with Global Health Network Uganda (GHNU). Data will be collected via interviews to ascertain the values of the three main activities run by the center: training for community health workers, home visit conducted, and health outreach programs. The research aims to compile a set of recommendation to help maximize the program effectiveness.
COE mentor: Dr. Daniel Perlman