Brown Winter Interns

The Saving Mothers team wants to introduce our winter interns from Brown University. Nikita and Natalie spent two weeks with Saving Mothers Team in New York City. Here we share with you an original post about them both!

Spotlight: Nikita

What is your name and position at Saving Mothers?

My name is Nikita Baregala Lopez, and I am an intern at Saving Mothers.

What are you studying, where, and why did you choose to study that?

I am a sophomore at Brown University and am studying Public Health. I plan on attending medical school after I graduate.  I am particularly interested in public health because of the long term impact community-level interventions can produce. I believe that having this perspective while going into medicine will enable me to view patients as more than a set of symptoms and see them as an individual that is part of and influenced by their community.  

Why were you interested in interning for Saving Mothers?

I first became involved with Saving Mothers through their student chapter at my school.  I was drawn to the organization due to its global impact, specifically its involvement in Guatemala. My mother is from Guatemala and I have spent a considerable amount of time there—it holds a fond place in my heart.  I wanted to intern with Saving Mothers to learn more about the development of community-oriented, long-term health interventions related to global maternal health.

What has been your favorite part about interning for Saving Mothers?

I really enjoyed going to a kit packing event at a local middle school in Manhattan.  About twenty middle school girls came to pack birthing kits to send to Guatemala. It was really fulfilling to see young women in the States actively trying to make an impact globally.

During my time working in the office and attending meetings, I felt that Natalie and I were heard and that our efforts and ideas were valued.  While working closely with Tannaz and Ijanae, I was able to learn more about the organization. I also felt very privileged to be collaborating with a tight-knit group of strong women who are all working towards a common goal.

What direction do you see women’s health going in? Is there progress or can more be done? 

I believe that progress is being made. However, there is still the need to advance the position and voice of women across societies.  I think that the need for advancements in women’s health globally must be addressed with consideration to the culture and the society in which interventions are being implemented and not attempting to execute a “one size fits all” model.

Who inspires you?

When I was young, I was told the story of my father’s uncle, a cardiac surgeon in India.  Once he had become a practicing surgeon, he would spend half the year working in a hospital in the city and the other half of the year providing medical care to rural parts of India.  Hearing this story was what first inspired me to become a doctor and get involved with global health initiatives.

Fun fact about yourself:

I enjoy crocheting and doing origami!

Spotlight: Natalie

What is your name and position at Saving Mothers?

My name is Natalie Montufar, and I am an intern at Saving Mothers.

What are you studying, where, and why did you choose to study that?

I am a junior at Brown University, studying Public Health with a focus on Global Health and Development Policy. My primary reason for choosing to study public health was wanting a career that tangibly allowed me to make a change in the world, either at a policy level or a local level. My interests were truly sparked by a class taught by Professor Alexander Nading at Brown University called “Anthropological Perspectives of Global Health”— my eyes were opened to concepts such as the economization of life, how the determinants of health vary in all their forms, and how drastic change can be made when people come first. 

Why were you interested in interning for Saving Mothers?

I was interested in interning for Saving Mothers because of their prioritization of sustainability. When creating large or small scale health interventions, sustainability and long-term solutions should be at the center of your intervention. Saving Mothers, through all their programs worldwide, focuses on personalized aid. Their work also prioritizes cultural sensitivity; in essence, focusing on the community’s needs, knowledge, and wants before their own agenda. Saving Mothers’ work globally is so impactful, and they are giving mothers everywhere the opportunities to have happy and healthy pregnancies. 

What has been your favorite part about interning for Saving Mothers?

There were so many things that I loved about interning for Saving Mothers. First of all, the tight-knit team that runs Saving Mothers is an assemblage of such bright and leading women, which provided me with a web of mentorship and inspiration throughout my internship. Also, Nikita (the other intern) and I’s perspectives and voice were given value and opportunity at Saving Mothers— whether it be our large projects or assisting with menial tasks, our opinion was valued. Lastly, our experience working at East Side Middle School was so heart-warming and invaluable. We packed Saving Mother’s birth kits, which are given to Comadronas as graduation presents in their Guatemala program, with 7th-grade students. Their eagerness to learn and help was perfectly intertwined with our enthusiasm to share the importance of maternal health. 

What direction do you see women’s health going in? Is there progress or can more be done? 

Women’s equality is making progress, slowly but surely, but women’s health is not quite there yet. The rate of maternal mortality is rising in the United States, a developed country, and  25% of women are forced to return to work in only a 2-week duration after giving birth in order to support their families. Women’s health is not heavily prioritized in the arena of global health. I personally believe that women’s health is focused mainly on “damage control” rather than prioritizing preventative measures and empowering the growth and education of women. Essentially, the ideology that empowering and educating women can provide an influx of profit, economically and socially, for an economy has not been analyzed or accepted by many countries, communities, or peoples.  

Who inspires you?

Michelle Obama. She is a rockstar of a woman. Her humble beginnings and constant hard work make her who she is. She has an aura of transparency about her troubles and even triumphs that is so unique. She always stays true to herself, even throughout her time in the public eye. Her book, “Becoming”, is truly brilliant, and beautifully illustrates her kind-hearted self (I highly recommend the book!!). 

Fun fact about yourself: 

I can read and write in Latin and broke my collar bone three times. 

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