Examples of Opportunities Health & Society Students Have Pursued:
Student Club-Vermont Student Assembly for Public Health
HSOC student, Madison Shaffer ‘20, saw a gap in local public health advocacy on campus and started the VtSAPH (Vermont Student Assembly for Public Health). VtSAPH is a club designed to cultivate a community for those interested in the field of public health to work together on public health and student-related issues within Vermont. Members in the club are provided information on how they can engage with the health of the community in Burlington and the greater Vermont area.
There are opportunities to participate in community outreach projects with the goal of fostering sustainable change in these areas. For example, we have partnered with the Community Health Centers of Burlington and are helping with meal preparation for their new Low-Barrier Homeless Shelter. Other opportunities include educational events such as webinars, speakers and documentary screenings, that serve to empower our members with information about the field of public health.
Unite For Sight Fellowship
For one month in the summer of 2017, Madison Schaffer ’20 worked as a Global Impact Fellow in Ghana, traveling and learning from a local eye clinic. This opportunity was facilitated by Unite For Sight (UFS), an NGO that supports eye clinics worldwide by investing human and financial resources in their social ventures to eliminate patient barriers to eye care.
The fellowship is a hands-on, immersive, and unique global health experience. As a Global Health fellow Madison learned first-hard about best practices in public health, international development, cultural competency, and cross-cultural communication.
UFS provided extensive pre-departure training which included online language, optical anatomy, and cultural competency courses. While in Ghana, fellows participated with and learned from Unite For Sight’s talented local partner doctors. The fellows assisted with patient intake, tested visual acuity, observed surgeries, distributed glasses and medication, and assisted with patient education. Each day the outreach team provided care to 100-300 patients in villages, slums, and refugee camps.
The organization partners with local eye clinics that struggle to reach rural populations. UFS provides year-round health care delivery in Ghana, India, and Honduras. To date, Unite for Sight and its partner local doctors have provided care for nearly 1.8 million patients living in poverty, including more than 80,000 sight-restoring surgeries.
The money raised by UFS goes towards subsidizing the medications and eye glasses for the clinics to distribute. The glasses and eye drops are then sold to patients who require them for a significantly lower price. Friends Eye Center, the clinic Madison worked with, was based in Kumasi. With the help of Unite For Sight the clinic is able to travel to rural areas and have an outpost clinic in Tamale, further north. Shaffer says: “This experience helped me apply things I’ve learned in my HSOC classes at UVM. Anthropology 089, Global Health Development and Diversity, taught me to look closely at NGO’s and to cast a critical gaze on Unite For Sight. My classes have provided me with a diverse tool kit with which to approach and process this experience.”
To apply to Unite For Sight, visit the website and click on the Volunteer Abroad tab.