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Sommer Scholars

Dawn Pepin

Master of Public Health Student

Dawn Pepin remembers the morning she awoke to find herself feverishly sick in a rural clinic in The Gambia. A recent college graduate, she contracted malaria while volunteering with a community-based development program and landed in a facility that was understaffed and unsanitary, and where medications were limited and outdated. For five days, while sharing a room with malnourished babies, Pepin gained firsthand knowledge about the deficiencies of health care in a developing nation. When she recovered, she was determined to pursue a career in international public health policy, a dream that began in college and intensified as she worked with Tostan, a West African nonprofit organization. Since then, Pepin has acquired a law degree and broadened her advocacy work. She has researched maternal morbidity and mortality for Amnesty International USA and contributed to UN policy reports on refugee health and welfare. As a law student, she served on a team that helped prepare a case for an undocumented immigrant who was medically repatriated to a country with no medical facility that could provide the treatment he needed. Now, she’s working on ensuring that children with autism and other developmental disabilities receive the public education to which they are entitled. “I see health from the perspective of human rights,” she says. “Everyone should have the right to be taken care of.” 11: Number of countries Pepin visited that continue traditional practices such as female genital cutting that harm the health and welfare of women and girls