SIT alumni present research at Notre Dame conference

February 20th, 2019   |   SIT

These SIT Study Abroad alumni are among 60 students chosen to present their undergraduate research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at University of Notre Dame Feb. 22-23. The annual student-led conference is sponsored by Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies. This year’s theme is “Engaging with Empathy: a preferential option for the poor in development.”

“SIT is proud of the alumni of our programs who will participate in this important conference, as well as the students from across the country and the academic spectrum who will have the opportunity to share their development-focused research,” said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett. Independent research is central to SIT Study Abroad’s immersive, semester-long programs, Howlett noted. SIT research projects require original fieldwork, a final presentation, and a formal research paper.

Natalie Geismar
International and Area Studies
Washington University in St Louis
SIT South Africa: Social and Political Transformation
Research: “Participatory Development and Menstrual Health Management in South Africa: A Case Study of Project Dignity”

My research both serves as a monitoring and evaluation tool for the organization and situates its praxis in the theoretical framework of participatory development. I hope to continue to do research around gender after I graduate in May, hopefully as a research assistant at a think tank or advocacy-based organization.

Olivia Gonzalez
Global Health major; Business and Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership minor
Arizona State University
SIT Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment
Research: “Empowered: A Study of the Solar Mamas’ Impact on Mayan Life in Belize”

Conducting my own research on domestic violence in Santiago, Chile, inspired and empowered me to continue doing research abroad and equipped me with many skills that I used to design my most recent project.

Sarah Mathys
Anthropology major, Government minor, African Studies focus
Georgetown University
SIT Uganda: Global Development Studies
Research: “Religion is Religion; My Life is My Life: Evangelical Foreign Aid and Reproductive Health Decisions in Rural Uganda”

My [independent study project] on reproductive health decisions encouraged me to take medical anthropology courses when I returned to Georgetown, and deeply influenced both my academic interests, encouraging me to continue my research among religious populations in DC and my professional goals in private-sector development.

Elena Mieszczanski
The George Washington University
Political Science and International Affairs major
SIT Uganda: Global Development Studies
Research: “Schooling Silence: Sexual Harassment and its Presence and Perception at Uganda’s Universities and Secondary Schools”

The whole uprising against sexual harassment and sexual violence has been very focused on Hollywood and western media, but I wanted to examine it within the context of Ugandan schools, something that is not as widely talked about. ... My study abroad experience definitely focused my interests around the intersection of development, politics, and gender, and my research was a huge part of that.

Michelle Moy
Rehabilitation Sciences major; Disability and Human Development and Pre-occupational Therapy minor
University of Illinois at Chicago
SIT China: Health, Environment, and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Research: “Development of Health Rehabilitation in Mainland China: From Traditional Chinese Medicine to Modern Western Rehabilitation Methods.”

I had the incredible opportunity to shadow therapists in China as well as TCM [traditional Chinese medicine] doctors, which gave me the idea of integrating both methods. My research topic looks at China's development of health rehabilitation over time and how there is a shift from TCM practice to the introduction of modern rehabilitation methods....This project has shown me that there is a need for modern rehabilitation professionals and helped me develop a passion to work in mainland China in the future.

Cora Neudeck
Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology major; Global Health and Health Policy concentration
Harvard University
SIT Jordan: Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action
Research: "Analyzing the Impacts of Child Marriage and Education on Hope in Syrian Refugee Girls in Jordan”

In Jordan, my desire to conduct this research was based on seeing the rates of child marriage increase exponentially since the [Syrian] conflict began, barring access to education for girls, and thus, taking away their chance at equitable futures. ...This was my first time doing research in the field, which can be challenging, especially not being fully fluent in Arabic and operating within a very different context.

Shivani Raman
Sociology major; Poverty, Justice, and Human Capabilities minor
Rice University
SIT Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment
Research: “Chronic Disease Management in Rural Peru”

This research allowed me to learn about the various barriers that individuals living in rural communities face in managing their chronic illnesses, and in the future, I am motivated to continue conducting research in order to promote the development of context-appropriate interventions that improve quality of life for these populations.

Samsara Davalos Reyes
Sociology major, Education minor
Trinity University
SIT Chile: Comparative Education and Social Change
Research: “Conscious or Unconscious: The Role of Education in the Formation of Social and Collective Awareness in Chilean Youth”

As a future educator and sociologist by training, I wanted to understand what components of the fractured Chilean education system prompted such bold actions and strong beliefs. The research I conducted abroad has shaped my worldview and shifted my career interest. I want to continue to learn about education in Latin America and I am looking at teaching opportunities there.

Chloe Schalit
International Politics major; concentration in Law, Institutions, and Ethics 
Georgetown University
SIT Uganda: Global Development Studies
Research: “Looking Beyond Primary: A Study of Barriers to Secondary Education in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Uganda”

... [D]uring a visit with our study abroad program to Nakivale Refugee Settlement in western Uganda, many refugees shared experiences of struggling with receiving education. Hearing these stories fueled my interest in the barriers that refugees face when trying to get an education. I walked away from the experience with a much better understanding of the big-picture context surrounding my research, as well as the confidence to boldly pursue difficult and independent academic work.

Ernest Tan
Urban Studies major
Yale-NUS College
SIT Kenya: Global Health and Human Rights
Research: “Living off the Land: Sand Mining, Property Rights, and the Preferential Option for the Poor in Kenya”

I saw firsthand how cities are dependent on resources, like sand and crops, that primarily come from rural places. This challenged me to think about how urban and rural development can occur hand-in-hand as mutually beneficial processes.

Sabrina Wang
Neuroscience and International Affairs double major
Washington University in St. Louis
SIT Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy
Research: “Defining Political Will: Transnational Advocacy and Non-communicable Disease Governance”

In Geneva, I gained broad exposure to processes of international governance and decision-making by attending diplomatic conferences and visiting influential IGOs. I walked away from the experience with a much better understanding of the big-picture context surrounding my research, as well as the confidence to boldly pursue difficult and independent academic work.