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Sommer Scholars

Sarah Murray

PhD Student, Mental Health

As long as she can remember, Sarah Murray has been fascinated by Africa. As an undergraduate double-majoring in government and African studies, Murray studied for a semester in South Africa, analyzing the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission assembled after apartheid ended. She also interned for the refugee resettlement office of the International Rescue Committee, working with children from Somalia and Liberia in the U.S. She continued this work after graduation, helping adult refugees adjust to American life. “I loved working with people and doing casework, but there were broader structural problems I wasn’t able to address in what I was doing,” she says. To prepare herself so that she might directly inform policy, Murray pursued a graduate degree in public health at the Bloomberg School. As part of that program, she participated in a practicum that involved teaching community organizations on the Thailand-Burma border how to implement programs to improve the health of refugee Burmese children. Her next decision was to pursue a PhD in mental health at the Bloomberg School. She is focusing her studies on an intervention program in eastern Uganda that helping HIV-affected caregivers-many of whom suffer from depression-related distress-to interact better with their children. "Mental health problems are incredibly burdensome from a public health perspective," she says. "I'ld like to make sure it gets the attention it deserves." 21: Number of years Murray has played the guitar