With dual majors in disparate subjects, Debbie Foster is no stranger to variety. One week, she is visiting an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka or viewing the Indian Ocean for the first time. The next week, she is back at UConn and networking with faculty about future opportunities. When Foster connects the dots, her big picture looks like public health. Here is what she said in an interview.
What attracted you to UConn? I was interested in a large research university with diverse majors, and I saw it as an opportunity to grow. Plus, my brother attended UConn and liked it.
What is your major, and why did you choose it? I am pursuing dual degrees in anthropology and allied health sciences with a concentration in public health. These majors combine my interests in social science and health.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I am participating in the Health Research Program through the Office of Undergraduate Research. I am working with UConn Health researcher, Dr. Stephen Schensul. I started the program in May of 2017 and am studying factors associated with the progression of chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) in Sri Lankan agricultural communities.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. In the summer of 2016, I was a research fellow at the Injury Prevention Center, which is part of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. We studied workers at domestic violence shelters and the situations that they face. I think this was a great introduction to learning about the foundations of public health as it is applied to real world problems.
I have been a College Ambassador since fall 2017. I am involved in recruitment and service events. Right now, I am collaborating to increase interest in CAHNR majors and opportunities during Major Exploration Week 2018. The College Ambassador program allows me to critically think about all aspects of leadership and improve my skills.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? I came to UConn with so many interests that it was hard to focus and narrow them down. I had to give up some things in order to broaden my horizons.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I hope to graduate in May 2018, earn my master’s degree and go into public health research or become an epidemiologist. I am interested in studying global health and maternal and child health.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I joined the UConn Outing Club without much experience with outdoor recreation. Now, I feel more confident in my abilities and spend many of my weekends on activities like hiking and rock climbing.
By Patsy Evans