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Sommer Scholars

Alanna Fitgerald-Husek

Master of Public Health Student

While representing her high school at a youth leadership training conference, Alanna Fitzgerald-Husek learned that each individual can make a difference by helping others, especially through collective effort. She put that lesson to good use during a university internship in Namibia, where she collaborated with a local organization focused on HIV prevention. Her investigation looked at factors influencing female sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use during transactional sex. She also established A Way Out, a fund to support sex workers seeking other sustainable livelihoods. “I wanted to delve into the lives of marginalized women involved in sex work in Namibia to understand the economic drivers of their activities and how income inequality relates to health outcomes such as HIV vulnerability,” she says. Subsequent trips to Namibia inspired her to address drowning—a major problem there—by launching a swimming and lifesaving program that continues to this day. Fitzgerald-Husek continued to concentrate on the needs of marginalized populations when she was in medical school and during residency by providing health care at homeless shelters and tuberculosis and addiction clinics. It was during that time that she met Bloomberg School alum Lawrence Loh, MD, MPH ’10, who encouraged her to apply to his alma mater. During her MPH studies, Fitzgerald-Husek intends to hone her leadership abilities while developing a comprehensive approach to creating and evaluating public health programs for vulnerable populations. 5: Number of trips Fitzgerald-Husek has taken to Namibia, which now feels like a second home