Ashley is a senior double majoring in Global Health and Psychology. She is passionate about learning about the structures and barriers of healthcare systems and understanding how politics, economics, and science intersect to affect people’s access to health. On campus, she is involved in Student Health Advocates and is an RA at Marshall. This year, Ashley fulfilled her field experience by spending 4 weeks in Puerto Escondido, Mexico with Child Family Health International (CFHI), a nonprofit, faith-based health system.
Ashley spent her mornings shadowing doctors at the local “Centro de Salud” clinics. Her program focused on women’s reproductive health, so many of the patients were younger pregnant women coming in for check ups. She learned to use a Fetal Doppler device to hear the fetus’s heartbeat and ensure that there were no developmental concerns. She also cites conversations with the doctors as important learning moments, teaching her about their perspective on topics like maternal health, contraception access, and cultural attitudes towards women’s health.
Outside of clinic, Ashley attended a medical Spanish class and had weekly meetings with the Medical Director of the program to learn about the most pressing public health issues of the region.
“I found it significant that in Oaxaca, women’s health is highly prioritized, with services such as IUD insertion and contraceptive implants being free and accessible without much stigma”
Ashley cites the largest challenge of her field experience as not being entirely fluent in Spanish. Despite this obstacle, she found it an incredibly rewarding experience as she grew more comfortable with the language over the course of the trip.
“One major way I grew in my Spanish was through talking to patients about their health. One of the doctors I shadowed encouraged me to use my background in psychology to ask patients about not only their day-to-day habits of eating and sleeping, but also ask about their mental health.”
Ashley was drawn to this field experience opportunity in Oaxaca, Mexico because she identified with CFHI’s philosophy, “let the world change you.” As an organization, CFHI does not believe in sending under-qualified students to another country with the intention of changing or “saving” it, but rather integrating students in an already existing infrastructure and teaching context and cultural humility. Ashley believed it important to find a program like CFHI’s which focuses on the health and labor of the community being visited.
Although Ashley has since returned from Oaxaca, Mexico but she continues to give back to the community. Ashley is currently a part of Student Health Advocates, which gives her the ability to serve students on campus.
“Our goal is to bridge the gap between Student Health and students by holding workshops, flyering on Library Walk, and hosting events such as World AIDS Day. My involvement allows me to connect with students directly and make the access to better health less daunting.”