This summer, we have 5 Duke Scholars working with the Duke Center for Global Reproductive Health in Kisumu, Kenya. We have 3 undergraduate students joining the Center as part of the Student Research Training Program (SRT), a Masters of Global Health Student, and a 3rd year OB/GYN resident all conducting research in Kenya. Read below to learn a bit about these passionate students and hear about their work and what they are most looking forward to. 


SRT Students:

Sydney Chen (she/her)

Sydney is a double major in Global Health and International Comparative Studies with a Biology Minor. She calls Herndon, Virginia home. When asked about what her time spent in Kisumu looks like, she reflected that “The team and I are working on various ways to improve an app called mSaada which helps women in East Africa receive screening for cervical cancer. I’m specifically working on the FAQ portion of the app by making sure that the answers are clinically accurate and using responsive, non-stigmatizing language.” Sydney is “very interested in understanding how to cultivate productive, long-lasting partnerships between academic institutions and community organizations in the global health field.”


Melat Woldetensae (she/her)

Melat is majoring in Biology and minoring in Computational Biology. She calls Washington state home. When asked about what Melat’s time will look like within Kenya, she said that “This summer, I am working with the team in Kenya to help implement MSAADA, a software tool that can improve early screening for HPV and cervical cancer. I am currently working on creating evaluative tools to assess how MSAADA is used in the field. The hope is to see any logistical challenges with visiting and screening women for HPV using MSAADA and then that use that information to improve the program.” Melat is “excited to learn more about the culture and to hopefully learn a little Swahili.” She has been taking Swahili courses at Duke and shares that “I think getting cultural exposure on how Swahili is used in everyday life in addition to in-class instruction will give me a more comprehensive view of the language.”


Isabel Siebrecht (she/her)

Isabel is a double major in Global Health and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies with a minor in Statistics. She calls Seattle, Washington home. In Kisumu, Isabel will be “Developing demonstrations for mSaada for the focus group discussions (FGDs) and the mSaada training.” She is most looking forward to “getting to experience global health work on the ground.”


Graduate Student:

Purity Chepkoech (she/her)

Purity is pursuing her Masters (MSc.) in Global Health. She calls Kenya home and is excited to be back. When reflecting upon her work in Kenya, Purity shares: “I will be working on developing training materials and conducting trainings for Community Health Volunteers working with women in cervical cancer prevention. The training is aimed at: enhancing client-centered approaches in cervical cancer prevention  and the focus of the training will be communication (stigma sensitive language when relaying information about HPV and cervical cancer), enhancing CHV’s knowledge of cervical cancer prevention and treatment to enable them to provide women with appropriate information, and counseling and follow-up through the use motivational interviewing of women who are hesitant to take up screening and treatment services.” Purity looks “forward to engaging with CHVs and learning from them during the trainings.” She believes that they are the experts in this “and our work is just to strengthen their efforts.” 


OB/GYN Resident:

Nguyên Thảo Thị Nguyễn (she/her)

Thao will be starting her 3rd year as an Ob/Gyn Resident in July. She was born in Go Cong, Vietnam, she grew up in Waco, Texas, and now considers Durham home after being here for 10 years. Thao shares that she will “be working on developing the mSaada application to track cervical cancer screening and treatment based on input from our key community stakeholders.” Thao reflects that she is most looking forward to “learning about the healthcare landscape in Kenya — specifically, how community health volunteers are organized and empowered to support communities in rural Kenya.”


Follow along within the Reflections From the Field as we will receive reflections from these 5 Scholars during their time in Kisumu this summer. We are super excited to hear about their time in Kisumu and know that they will accomplish many great things!

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