University of Nebraska Medical Center

Students share stories from India

This year, for the first time, the College of Public Health sent students abroad to gain learning and research experiences.  Four students joined others in India who are enrolled in a Certificate of Public Health distance learning program at UNMC.
Second from left: UNMC master of public health students T.J. Ihkena, Abbey Munyon, Andrea Haugen and Kathryn Istas gather with some of the Indian women who participated in a research survey the students conducted during their service learning capstone project in India.
Below, Kathryn Istas, a master of public health student, tells us a about their trip.

What was the goal of the trip?

The goal of the trip is to establish a UNMC College of Public Health capstone service learning site at the Asian Institute of Public Health (AIPH). The students were selected to engage in research with AIPH faculty in the rural Eastern state of Orissa. Each student worked closely with AIPH and UNMC faculty to plan a research proposal to fit the needs of AIPH; conduct research through data collection while in Bubaneswar, Orissa; and analyze and report the findings.


Hear from the students
These students joined Istas in India:

  • Andrea Haugen;
  • Abbey Munyon; and
  • John Ikhena.

They will share their stories on Wednesday at noon in Sorrell Center, Room 4053.

The trip was a partnership between the Service Learning Academy and the Center for Global Health and Development.

What did you learn?
I learned about the local government sponsored health care available by visiting local hospitals. In addition, I learned about my Indian public health peers — what motivated them, what they struggled with in the classes we were both taking, what they do for fun (dance) and what they believe as spiritual Hindus. I learned we’re a lot alike even though we live very far apart and that access to public health is imperative to the improvement of the quality of life for everyone.

How did this experience shape your future work as a public health professional?

Prior to this experience, social justice motivated me to work in public health. While this is still the case, I feel much more confident in my ability to work with communities to make meaningful and sustainable changes that will benefit health outcomes.

During our project, we also discovered that a survey tool we used didn’t fairly assess knowledge and attitudes so we adapted the survey for the remainder of the study. It was an important experience to see that things don’t always go as planned.


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