India: Public Health alumnae Elizabeth Curtis and Jess Wiken Receive Fulbright Fellowships

March 24th, 2017   |   SIT Study Abroad

Students in SIT Study Abroad program India: Public Health, Policy Advocacy, and Community often do in-depth health research, and two of the program’s alumnae recently received Fulbright fellowships to continue the work they began in India.

Photo - Elizabeth Curtis

Williams College student Elizabeth Curtis’ 2015 Independent Study Project for SIT explored what she perceived as the biggest health risk for pregnant women and new mothers in Indian villages: the lack of understanding between the women and health workers. She researched “realistic options for pregnant women and new mothers regarding their healthcare, and how a community health worker model could help health systems better work together to improve the health, safety, and overall well-being of traditionally disadvantaged women in rural communities.”

Elizabeth hopes to become a midwife, and is already a doula in Berkshire County, Mass., and a gynecological teaching associate at Praxis Clinical. Her Fulbright fellowship will take her to Bahraich district, in Uttar Pradesh, India, where she will undertake further research for the project “Community Solutions: Building Sustainable Reproductive Health Programs in Rural India.”

Jess Wiken, from the University of Puget Sound, participated in India: Public Health in 2016, and also researched maternal health, focusing on pregnancy complications. Jess looked at how behavioral and environmental factors affect preeclampsia, eclampsia, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, focusing in particular on how “cultural, religious, political, and socioeconomic factors shape the realities” of pregnant women’s lifestyle decisions and education. Jess’ research will continue in collaboration with The Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed, India, an organization working with India’s rural poor.

She is currently a peer advisor and office assistant for International Programs at the University of Puget Sound, and also works as a medical scribe, opinions writer for The Puget Sound Trail, and a mentor/tutor for the Refugee Women’s Alliance.