“I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to study health in different cultural contexts around the world, and I can’t wait to apply what I learned to my future medical career,” says Brigette Stickney ’20 (biochemistry & molecular biology), who interned with the Comprehensive Rural Health Project and studied breast cancer treatment while studying abroad in India and also completed health-related ethnographic research in Tanzania. “These experiences are extremely valuable to my future as a physician, contributing to tackling issues of unequal health care access and treatment and providing quality care to all of my patients."
Clubs and organizations:
Raven’s Claw Scholarship, John Montgomery Scholarship, Eugene & Laura Behrens Memorial Scholarship, Top 20 Scholarship of South Butler County, Willis Follstaedt Scholarship, Alpha Lambda Delta and Dean’s List.
Educated by Tara Westover.
On choosing Dickinson:
I chose Dickinson because I wanted to explore topics beyond only my biochemistry & molecular biology major. I wanted a liberal-arts education with study abroad experiences so that I could connect my passion for biochemistry with a variety of important social justice, humanities and cross-cultural influences. These experiences are extremely valuable to my future as a physician, contributing to tackling issues of unequal health care access/treatment and providing quality care to all of my patients.
Favorite Dining Hall food:
Greek salmon salad at the grill
Favorite class/learning experience:
My favorite learning experiences at Dickinson were studying abroad in Tanzania and India. I had always dreamed of traveling outside of the U.S., and that dream was made possible last year through these study abroad experiences. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to study health in different cultural contexts around the world, and I can’t wait to apply what I learned to my future medical career.
Where I studied abroad, and the highlight of the experience:
I studied abroad through Dickinson’s Ethnographic Field School in Tanzania and with School for International Training: Public Health, Gender, and Community Action in India. One of my favorite experiences in Tanzania was learning to dance and speak Swahili. In India, one of my highlights was traveling to rural Utter Pradesh to meet and learn from a group of incredible, empowered teenage girls who started their own village parliament and drastically improved health, social equality, safety and infrastructure in their community.
I love to paint and sketch!
About my internship:
During summer 2019, I interned at Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) in Jamkhed, Maharashtra, India. As a part of my fall 2018 semester abroad in India, I went on a weeklong workshop to CRHP to learn about rural health care. I was inspired to return as an intern the following summer because of the incredible people that I met there, and I wanted to better understand the community action health care model that CRHP uses to improve health among rural villages. This sustainable model is used to empower women from marginalized backgrounds to become highly respected village health leaders who drastically improve both the health quality and social equity in their own communities. These women have eradicated many infectious diseases from their villages, improved noncommunicable disease education, and organized a variety of different community groups for adults and adolescents to break down caste and gender barriers. Through this internship, I learned a lot about how nonprofit health care organizations can be effectively and ethically run and how the CRHP model could be extremely beneficial in improving health care in rural and low-income areas in the United States, if implemented correctly.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Malala Yousafzai.
About my research:
During fall 2018, through the School for International Training study abroad program on public health, gender and community action, I conducted a five-week ethnographic independent study project in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, on the challenges women face in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. I chose to research this topic because of my interest in women’s health. I wanted to be able to relate what I learned in India to health issues that are also very prevalent in the U.S.
For my project, I interviewed a variety of breast cancer survivors and health care workers to learn of the experiences and challenges women face that prevent them from gaining early access to treatment that would drastically improve their chances of survival. I discovered that the largest factor that prevented them from obtaining early diagnosis and treatment was fear stemming from lack of breast cancer education, along with women’s reproductive health stigmas. This research and the incredible, strong women that I met through it inspired me to want to return to India for a Fulbright Research Scholarship to further research this topic.
During summer 2018, I completed a small ethnographic research project in rural Mbeya, Tanzania, with Dickinson Ethnographic Field School, studying how citizens navigated health care and their decision processes in seeking treatment. I wanted to better understand people’s experiences with a variety of different treatment options and how they integrated allopathic medicine, herbal medicine and/or spiritual healing into their health. I interviewed a variety of men and women with different health complications who generously provided information on their health histories. Through this project, I learned many complex factors of decision-making processes in health, including the importance of family in treatment decisions and of trust in lab technology, preference of private care, and financial and geographic accessibility of treatment, as well as the difficulties posed by ineffective treatments and incorrect diagnoses.
My mother. She raised me as a single mom while simultaneously working multiple jobs and completing her education online. She taught me that if I work hard, anything is possible, and that it’s important to be a strong, independent woman.
After Dickinson, I hope to receive a Fulbright Research Scholarship to return to India to study women’s reproductive health stigmas. After Fulbright, I plan to obtain a master’s degree in humanitarian action/crisis management through School for International Training in Uganda and Jordan. Then I will attend medical school to become a gynecologist and work to provide gynecological health care access in low resource settings.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published October 15, 2019