PhD Student, Population, Family and Reproductive Health
Six months out of college, Erin Pearson found herself in Tamil Nadu, India, working with Students Partnership Worldwide to design and implement a health education program through the Erthangal Government High School. One day, a 12-year-old and her mother approached her, requesting help in writing a note to the headmaster: The girl was withdrawing from school to marry her 40-year-old uncle whose wife had recently passed away.
Pearson realized then that many of the women she saw—often balancing a water container on one bony hip and a child on the other—were not much older than this 7th Standard student. The health consequences of early marriage became clear to her: Undernourished and undereducated girls were often married to older men and became pregnant because modern contraceptive methods were not widely used. The health outcomes were poor for both mothers and children.
Upon her return to the U.S., she worked at the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, D.C., providing management and data analysis support on reproductive health research projects. She returned to India during her MPH program to work with UNICEF Jharkhand on a case study of a government program aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality with cash payments to women who delivered in health facilities.
With a concentration at the Bloomberg School on reproductive health and epidemiologic methods, Pearson has her sights set on a research position with the government or a nonprofit to focus on reproductive health. Her interests lie in family planning and unsafe abortion, related to human rights issues such as early marriage and intimate partner violence.