2018-08-31 HBREX reflection Blessing Edem

Blessing Edem and Sr. Research Data Analyst, Jonathan Altamirano

Through the program Human Biology Research Experience (HB-REX), I was given the opportunity to intern with Stanford Global Child Health. As a Human Biology major, I have been able to put the lessons from my courses into practice and expound on what I had yet to learn before this summer experience. With the guidance and support of Global Child Health team I have been able to expand my tool kit of research skills, gain exposure to aspects of the research process I had little to no experience with, and opened my eyes to various facets of the global health research community.

My experience with the Human Biology core over the past year has been grounded in interdisciplinary and integrative methods of learning. These practices carried over into the work I was able to partake in during my time with Global Child Health projects. During the course of my 10 week internship there were multiple projects in the works; however, two projects I was most involved with this summer were an ongoing project based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo  researching Asili and another ongoing research project on a gender based violence prevention program in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya.

Asili, which means foundation in Swahili, is a novel social enterprise platform, which  aims to address child mortality in South Kivu, DRC through clean water kiosks and small format health clinics. The research on Asili was used to evaluate the impact of Asili on child health metrics. While assisting my team on this project, I was exposed to some of the background work that goes into constructing a final report on years of research. From literature reviews to consolidating quantitative data and contextualizing it with qualitative data from participant  interviews, I learned a great deal about the off-site work that goes into a large study.

For the Kenya work being done on the efficacy of a gender based violence prevention, empowerment self-defense program for adolescents in Nairobi, I had the opportunity to be gain a better appreciation for and hone in on qualitative data analytical skills. Coding in-depth interviews of participants highlighted the fact that for certain areas of study or research projects, numbers alones cannot sufficiently reflect the impact of an intervention. After working on this study for some time, I was able to present some of the research I had done at the HBREX Symposium along with the other undergraduate students in the HBREX summer program.  

As this summer comes to a close, I look forward to continuing my education in the field of Global Child health and continuing work with in this department in the School of Medicine. The lessons I have learned over the past 10 weeks will stay with me as I go into my final two years as a Stanford undergraduate student, and they have emboldened my passion for the world of Global Health and my excitement for what I can add to it in the future.

Blessing is a rising junior on the pre-med track at Stanford University. She was raised in Chino Hills, CA but originates from Nigeria. Her summer internship was supported by the Human Biology Research Exploration (HBREX) program.