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A path in public health from travels

March 14, 2019
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ANN ARBOR—A culmination of lifelong international experiences has shaped the career trajectory of LSA senior Meda Maweja. This future global health professional traces her love for traveling back to her family’s migration to the U.S. when she was 11 years old.

“I was born in Zambia and have been travelling since I was young,” said Maweja, who will pursue a master’s degree in public health after she completes her double major in international studies and biology. “It’s a big part of why I can adapt to new environments so easily.”

As a freshman, Maweja was eager to jumpstart her global learning experience. She was researching international opportunities for first-year students when she came across a flyer for an environmental GIEU program in Sāo Paulo, Brazil.

“In Brazil, we learned about the effect of water quality on health. It was there I started thinking about the environment as a social health determinant,” she said.

Maweja chose to do study abroad again after declaring her concentration in global health and the environment. This time, she enrolled in a health-based program in Delhi, India.

“My cohort and I researched the impact of overpopulation on community health,” Maweja said. “The trip to India brought together what I’ve been missing in my undergraduate experience—exposure to practical, real-world effects. It motivated me to finally solidify my career trajectory in public health.”

After she receives her graduate degree, Maweja plans to work as a social researcher. She wants to focus on the social barriers that prevent people from living their healthiest lives. Variations in nutritional habits between different communities has piqued her interest.

“I have been trying to adopt a vegetarian diet, and have noticed attitudes different groups of people have towards different diets,” she said.

And, as a food aficionado, Maweja does have one travel regret.

“My friend and I took a side trip to Italy before I went to India. I was too tired to eat pizza there as I would’ve liked,” she said.

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