I decided to apply for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant as an At-Large candidate (not enrolled at the time of application) because after I received my bachelor’s degree, I was interested in possibly attending graduate school in psychology and was not certain which type of degree suited my needs best. Working with a professor I had known since my undergraduate study abroad experience in Senegal, I was able to find my Fulbright affiliation and mentor, Dr. Myayang Niang – a professor, NGO director, medical doctor, and scientist.
During my Fulbright year in Senegal, I found that volunteering and engaging in community work were as important to my professional development as my psychological research. I worked with volunteers to build a cyber-café for medical students at Dakar University, mentored homeless children at a shelter, provided care to villagers in a remote health clinic, and taught American History and English classes to high school students at U.S. Department of State-sponsored events in Dakar.
For my Fulbright research, I used World Health Organization questionnaires to examine how stress may be associated with psychological/physical distress and how it can vary depending upon rural and urban settings in Senegal. Once back in the United States, this research ended up providing me with the impetus to apply to Ph.D. programs focusing on multicultural psychology and medicine. Currently, I am in my last year of a clinical psychology and behavioral medicine Ph.D. program at Duke University, and am a behavioral medicine intern within the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.