Danielle Dougherty

UMMS Class of 2015

Why UMMS? So many factors went into the decision!  Overall, I was drawn to the sense of community that I saw here on my visits. Students and faculty are excited and passionate about working together and learning from each other about issues regarding global health and health disparities.

What is the most exciting thing happening at UMMS these days? Many exciting things are happening! Several of my classmates are involved in so many interesting student activities and research projects; it would be difficult to name one but it is nice to see that everyone has found a niche where they can pursue a passion outside of the classroom.

When did you first develop an interest in global health? I had always been interested in working internationally in under-resourced areas.  But my time serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana from 2006-2008 really solidified this passion and also was what sparked an interest in pursuing a career in medicine in the first place.

Describe your M1 summer research experience in Botswana: After having spent a couple of years in northwest Botswana as a Peace Corps Volunteer and then returning two more times to do some survey research on the topic of violence against women, I wanted to continue to work in the same region and cooperate with the same local non-profit organization that I had been involved with there.  UMMS didn’t have an established program that would specifically send me to Botswana to work with women who are survivors of violence.  However, I found an immense amount of general support from the faculty to pursue the topic I am passionate about, especially through the Global Health and Disparities Program and Global REACH.  I found an excellent mentor in Dr. Andrew Haig who supported me in pursuing a research project that would allow me to continue to work on the issues I feel passionate about in the region I have come to call a second home.  The non-profit I worked with on the ground in Botswana was WoMen Against Rape, an organization that assists women and men who have survived violence.  It was the same non-profit where I had served as a volunteer years ago and through which I had done previous research on Intimate Partner Violence. The organization was extremely helpful and excited to cooperate.  I also received an immense amount of help through a mentor from Rutgers, Francis Barchi, PhD, who was the PI on previous research projects in which I had participated in Botswana.  She taught me everything I know about survey research and was happy to contribute to the design and implementation of this project.  At the end of the day, it was great to see people from all over the place work together and communicate together to help carry out this project.  I received funding through the SBRP program and GlobalREACH.

Why did you choose this program, this location? UMMS has great programs set up all over the world, but I am so happy that I received enough support to go back to the part of the world that I already feel attached to and that I have already dedicated many years to!

You recently presented your research at the annual meeting of the Consortium for Universities for Global Health (CUGH), how was that experience?  I really enjoyed the conference.  I am also very glad that they had the session on reflection.  I think it is very important in the world of research and data collection to always take some time and reflect on the individuals we are working with and relationships we are forming.

Ms. Dougherty received an award at CUGH for her essay Moving Forward, which was based on her experience in Botswana. She and other essay winners presented these during an awards session. You may read her essay here.