This is an interview of Ms. Onome Uwhuba (University of Chicago Class of 2013). She participated in the University of Washington’s MIRT Program in the Summer of 2011. You can contact her via email with any further questions.
What is the name of your summer program?
The program was called MIRT (Multidisciplinary International Research Training) sponsored by the University of Washington. My research occurred in Australia. The website for the program is: http://depts.washington.edu/mirt/
Please give a brief summary of the program
The Multidisciplinary International Research Training Program is a national program sponsored by the NIH, through the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIHMD). The program is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral research, and provides support for undergraduate and graduate students to do health-related population-based research and training in developing countries. The program works with academic institutions throughout the developing world, including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Thailand, Republic of Georgia, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
Please give a brief summary of your experience with the program
In the Australia program, we were four students (all girls) all juniors and seniors in college. My experiences were quite simply amazing. We spent the first three weeks in Northern Queensland travelling to various rural areas. My travels included lessons on the environmental health of Australia and discussions with locals on the struggles with healthcare in a rural setting. We also talked to various members of the Aboriginal Australian community and performed literature reviews on rural health and healthcare for Aboriginal Australians. At the end of the three weeks, we completed a paper examining issues in Rural health. We also spent time having fun, which included snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, hiking in rainforests, swimming in amazing waterfalls and spending time at the numerous beaches on the weekends.
After completing our Rural health portion of the internship, we flew from Northern Queensland to Sydney. In Sydney, we met with our professors and spent our mornings analyzing data from a public health survey performed in Vietnam. And then we spent afternoons volunteering in a subsidized housing Community Center. We also made sure to spend time seeing the sights in Sydney, including seeing an opera in the Sydney Opera House, walking from Coogee to Bondi beach, visiting Paddy’s Market and others. At the end of the four weeks in Sydney, we completed a research paper and a poster and abstract.
Could you talk about the good/great/amazing things about your program?
One of the best parts of the MIRT program was the merging of research experiences with cultural experiences. Our professors made sure that we learned and performed research and understood our research areas, and insisted that we had also enjoyed the cultural offerings of the city we were in.
The other part of the program that I appreciated the most was the close relationship we built with our professors. Because we spent 4 hours with them every day, we got help from them whenever necessary and were able to pick their brains and learn from so much.
What about things in the program that could have been better?
One aspect of the public health research process that was missing from this experience was the actual data collection experience. While we had a chance to perform informal interviews with community members, the data source for our research project was previously collected.
Where did you live, and how did it affect your experience?
We lived in the Sydney Harbour YHA (which has a rooftop view of the Sydney Opera house and the Harbour Bridge). It was an amazing experience because we stayed there for a month, while most visitors to the YHA spent less than 5 days there. I got to meet and talk to so many people from all around the world.
Could you explain the application process and any tips for students interested in the program?
The application process is very involved, especially because the application is due in December, so it is best to start requesting recommendations and essay writing early in the fall. The process involves the initial application (you also need to have a passport), including essays and letters of recommendations. Then in the early spring there is an interview process and then applicants hear back in the spring.
My tip would be to apply early and do your best.
If you had a summer experience you would like to share with the University community, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org