Dual degree student wins Boren Fellowship

Rachel Ward, a student in the Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health dual degree program at the University of Georgia, has been awarded a prestigious Boren Fellowship to conduct Zika research in Brazil. The Boren Fellowship, awarded by the National Security Education Program, supports graduate students interested in studying less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. national security interests.

Ward will travel to Recife, Brazil for a six-month project studying the Brazilian public health response to the Zika virus and similar vector-borne diseases. Her aim is to examine how Brazilian health promotion can guide similar health messages in the United States.

In addition to studying Zika public health messaging, Ward plans to partner with local organizations to provide support for mothers of babies with the congenital syndrome associated with virus. Her project will survey the unique social and economic needs of these mothers affected by the Zika virus and research how the Brazilian healthcare system is responding to the medical needs of their children. Ward’s preliminary research for this project, undertaken over the past year, was funded through an U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship.

“As our climate continues to get warmer, I believe the United States will begin to experience more of these epidemics that Brazil and the rest of Latin America have been battling for ages,” said Ward. “Through language acquisition and experience abroad, I am eager to be a part of the literal and figurative ‘translation’ of public health systems between Latin America and the United States.”

The MSW-MPH Program at the University of Georgia is a joint effort the College of Public Health and School of Social Work. To learn more, visit http://ssw.uga.edu/academics/mswmph/msw-mph.html.