Dr. Phyllis Ngai
Rachael Schmoker's Internship in South Africa
My name is Rachael Schmoker, and I am a senior from Fairbanks, Alaska. I am studying Health and Human Performance with an emphasis on Community Health. My minors are IDS and GPH. This past summer I went on an IE3 internship to Cape Town, South Africa to work in a HIV and AIDS organization in the township of Khayelitsha. I spent three months working alongside public health professionals to learn how HIV has impacted their township and what they were doing to decrease its negative effects. Working alongside these people made me humble because they have overcome so many obstacles to fight for the health of their community. I met a woman who told me that she began a career in HIV counseling after her brother died from AIDS. I met a woman who had been sexually assaulted and now advocates against gender based violence in her community. I also met many people who realized that there was a need to increase their community’s health knowledge and now work full time educating their fellow community members.
This experience was instrumental in validating my future career plans of working in developing countries on the issue of health care access. I was able to learn about a new culture and live in another country while working in my chosen field. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and traveling alone to Africa allowed me to know myself better by challenging me in ways I never knew I would be challenged. I became a more independent person and more confident in my health care abilities. Being able to use my knowledge of international development and health in a real world setting will set me apart in job and graduate school applications. Working with IE3 gave me the support I needed to complete this experience and excel. I came home from my internship even more passionate about community health work and more in love with Africa. This experience confirmed my career path of going into the Peace Corps and working abroad in Africa. I am so grateful for this opportunity and want to thank the Global Public Health External Advisory Council, the GLI, and the Honors College for awarding me with scholarships that allowed me to complete this experience.
Image Above: Rachael’s Post Graduation Experience in South Africa.