As I write this there are 16 days, 10 hours, and 7 minutes left until graduation. Just thinking about the end makes me anxious because I have so much to accomplish before the last day of school. There is a master’s paper to write, group projects to finalize, and exams to take. I am certain that after all of this is said and done I will look back (much more relaxed) and be happy that I stuck around ‘till the end. I don’t have any amazing words of wisdom to offer nor do I think I can share anything enlightening. I guess I want to use this space to think back through the years and share with you some of the things that I have learned.
During the first year of the dual-degree program we learned about active listening. The concept of active listening seemed quite obvious to me. It makes complete sense that we should strive to really “listen” to what someone is saying and confirm understanding by rephrasing what we have heard. Nonetheless, I have found that individuals don’t really practice or know about active listening. Active listening has become such a powerful tool for me. I use it to communicate better with family, friends, and co-workers.
During the second year of the dual-degree program I took the majority of my classes in the school of public health. During this year I learned about the importance of breastfeeding. Before this time the concept of breastfeeding never crossed my mind. I now know that the majority of women in the U.S. don’t breastfeed and that our society in not set up to support women who wish to breastfeed. Today, I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate and strive to provide all of the people around me with information about the importance/benefits of breastfeeding.
In this last semester, I have become excited about microfinancing and health. Microfinancing/microcredit/microlending is basically the concept of providing poor people (especially women) access to money to start or grow a small business. Microfinancing has become very popular in developing countries and shows some evidence that it can help pull women out of poverty. Microfinancing and health is the concept of providing dual financial and health services to poor women in developing countries. This is done with the understanding that it is not enough to provide women with access to money without considering their health needs. Poverty and ill health are interrelated (e.g. poor people are more likely to be sick more frequently and for a longer period of time) therefore addressing both may have a greater impact on the lives of poor women and their families.
As you can see, I have learned a lot about many different things! In the end, I am happy that I chose to come to Carolina and hope you find your experience here to be as rich and exciting at is has been for me.