Megan Skalitzky is a graduating senior majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a certificate in Global Health. She currently works at the African Studies Program as an administrative intern. In this AFRICA IN OUR LIVES, she talks about her experiences studying and even interning in Africa as an Engineering major.
What first sparked your interest in Africa as an Engineering major?
I decided on Biomedical Engineering as my major because I was interested in biology and problem-solving. However, I was also interested in global health. My freshman year I started volunteering for a nonprofit whose work focused in Sierra Leona. Through working with this nonprofit, my interest in Africa grew stronger. I am now able to use the problem-solving skills I have learned through engineering to address scenarios within my nonprofit to empower communities in Sierra Leone.
How did you come to work for the African Studies Program, and can you describe your experience here?
When I was in Uganda, I met Lauren, who introduced me to the African Studies Program. I started following their social media and watching their events. When I saw that they were hiring an administrative intern, I thought it would be a perfect fit to further my African interest. My experience working in the African Studies Program has been wonderful! It is such a great group of individuals and it is very clear everyone is motivated by the work they do. I have truly enjoyed every moment of working with such a great team and learning from their experiences.
What was your favorite Africa-related course you took here at Madison?
I wish I could stay an extra year to take more Africa-related courses! Through working at the African Studies Program, I have learned about all of the very interesting African-related course offered here. One class I really enjoyed taking was Pathology 210, where we learned about the AIDS epidemic. It was a great way to combine my skills of biomedical research and Africa-related knowledge and it also helped me with my time in Uganda.
Can you tell us a bit about your internship experience in Uganda?
During the summer of 2017, I interned with Health Access Connect in Uganda.
This internship was provided through the International Internship Program on campus. I was the outreach intern for Health Access Connect. Health Access Connect primarily focuses on providing mobile clinics to rural villages. I lived in Kampala, the capital city, but made regular trips to surrounding rural villages. This experience was the highlight of my time in undergrad. I was able to do work that I was passionate about while challenging myself in a new environment. The people I met in Uganda were so kind and I am still in contact with many of them today. I also enjoyed furthering my knowledge of nonprofits and how they function. I would definitely encourage this kind of experience for other undergrads!
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I have accepted a full-time job working with clinical trials at AbbVie Pharmaceuticals in Chicago. I am excited to start, but I will definitely miss living in Madison. I also definitely think my internship experience in Uganda and my diverse academic background helped me to get this job. Further down the road, I am looking into receiving a masters in Public Health or Public Policy and am planning on continuing my work with nonprofits as well!
Finally, I would like to thank the whole African Studies Program for the constant support and encouragement!