Regina Fuller is a doctoral student at UW-Madison studying Educational Policy Studies and Comparative International Education. Her work focuses on sexuality education and adolescent reproductive health in Africa. She is also a recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship. In this AFRICA IN OUR LIVES, Regina discusses how her travels have shaped her career path.
Field of Study: Educational Policy Study
Hometown: Spartanburg,South Carolina
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I am avid lover of dance. I danced salsa for a while and am currently working to improve my Quizomba.
What sparked your interest in education?
When I graduated from the University of Ghana with a master’s degree in African Studies, I returned home to South Carolina to work for the school district I grew up in. I was working as a Spanish-English translator and building relationships between the school, families, and communities. I began to notice the same inequalities of access and funding that I experienced as a child and did not have the language or “theory” to describe what I saw.
Tell us about your current fieldwork studying girls’ transitions to secondary school and adolescent reproductive health in Ghana?
My current research is on sexuality education in secondary schools in Greater Accra and the Northern Region of Ghana. When I first began the research, many people told me that Ghanaian youth would not want to discuss sex and relationships, but that has not been the case. Youth are curious for information about sexuality, relationships, and their bodies, and I believe schools should be a source of accurate sexuality education.
How has your experience as a Spanish major benefitted your work in Africa?
I would say my Spanish major has not benefited me as much as my Portuguese. I taught as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Brazil and given my Spanish background, it was easy for me to learn Brazilian Portuguese. I often meet Lusophone Africans in Accra and they are always elated to meet a fellow Portuguese speaker!
Your education has taken place all across the globe, including the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Senegal, Ghana, Tanzania, Egypt, Israel, India, and Germany. How has this travel shaped who you are as a person? Was there a location that was most impactful?
I think travel has made me be extremely flexible and adaptable to almost any situation I find myself in. It has also shown me how little Americans know about the rest of the world, while the rest of the world knows so much about us! The most impactful trip I have been on was a January term trip during undergrad to Cape Town, South Africa. It was my first trip to the continent and South Africa did not match what I had seen or heard about Africa. That trip really sparked my interest in Africa, African Studies, and decolonial narratives of the continent.
What advice would you give students who hope to travel for their future careers?
I would definitely recommend studying abroad during their undergraduate career and honing in on a skill (through the major and interning) that is in high demand in their future career area.
Published by Aberdeen Leary