Every winter around this time I start to fall into the graduate school doldrums. I find myself lethargically moving through the motions of going to school, turning in assignments, and working. Stress becomes my constant mood and I begin to forget why I want to be in public health. I forget what made me passionate about public health in the first place. This year these feelings are magnified by impending graduation and the need to acquire a job. Last spring break I went to Texas with PHAST and worked with the University of Texas, Brownsville to create a promotional video of their work in the community of Los Fresnos, TX. I spent one week with the staff at UT Brownsville and the community and the spark inside me that had been extinguished was reignited. I was pulled away from my books and the classroom and I was thrown into public health “in practice”, reinvigorating my passion for public health.
In a few short days I will be on a plane headed to the beautiful Grenada for another PHAST spring break trip and I could not be more excited. The first fact I learned about Grenada is that almost the entire population, 110,000 people can fit inside the Big House. It is a small Caribbean island, overshadowed in tourism by its more popular neighbors like Barbados and St. Lucia. However, the island is known for being the second largest producer of chocolate and a contributing member of the “Spice Isle” because of its production of nutmeg and mace. Not only will it be 80 degrees and sunny everyday that we are there but I will spend the week doing meaningful public health work. My group and I will be collaborating with the Ministry of Social Development to identify vulnerable and high priority populations and develop the first ever inventory of agencies and programs that provide social services on the island. We will spend the week interviewing key members of government and community agencies and compiling data to inform our project. At the end of the week we will report our findings to members of the Ministry of Social Development. I can already tell that this trip will be the perfect medication for my graduate school blues.