Amy began her Master’s program at The Ohio State University knowing exactly what she wanted to do with it. She moved back to the States after working in Guatemala and knew that she wanted to gain the skills that would help her return to the country she had grown to love and work to improve health outcomes.
This clear goal helped her focus her MPH studies. She was able to tailor her practicum and culminating project on cervical cancer in Guatemala in order to further her education and make contact with researchers who are experts on these topics. These experiences helped prepare her to make an impact once she graduated.
Amy moved back to Guatemala soon after she finished her MPH degree. She didn’t have a job when she went but planned on taking some time to decompress after grad school and reconnect with people she knew in the area.
After working for about a year with a local non-profit, Amy's friend introduced her to Friendship Bridge, an organization that works to empower impoverished women in Guatemala through microfinance and education. Friendship Bridge works with primarily indigenous populations in rural areas of Guatemala and uses a group lending model to provide small loans and non-formal education.
Microfinance and Health
Friendship Bridge understands that the challenges of poverty are multidimensional and is part of a growing trend among microfinance institutions to offer additional services, apart from financial services, as a means to increase impact. Health and poverty are intricately related and individuals who are healthy are better able to run their businesses, repay their loans, and contribute to the betterment of their communities. Organizations like Friendship Bridge are expanding their impact by offering access to health education and health services.
Amy joined Friendship Bridge just as this health initiative was being developed. She initially worked on the design of the program and is now piloting it with one of the organization’s branches.
Her current work includes overseeing and coordinating the implementation of the program. Additionally, she is conducting an evaluation of the pilot phase of the program, utilizing surveys and focus group methodologies, in order to gather client feedback and make adjustments to the program before scaling it up to other branches. Amy is using her MPH skills every day and is practicing the real-world application of the text-book theories she learned in school.
Friendship Bridge has been excellent at helping Amy connect with other health and microfinance institutions where she can get advice and read the latest public health research. She has also been able to share her learnings with other organizations that are looking to develop health programs. She recently returned from Bolivia where she participated on a panel at the 7th Annual Latin American Village Bank Forum to discuss key findings about delivering sustainable health services through microfinance.
Amy's Advice for New Grads
Amy’s advice for new grads is to realize that you probably aren’t going to find your dream job right away. Most people have many stepping stones before they find work that fits. She says that there are real benefits to putting time and effort into initial jobs that are less than ideal because you gain valuable insight that will shape future experiences. You will also make connections with individuals who will help you get closer to that ideal future job.
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