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Recent Grad Sees the World

With a new Master of Public Health degree in hand, NWCPHP Research Assistant Heather Burkland will embark on an incredible journey. She is one of 14 University of Washington students to be awarded a Bonderman travel fellowship.

June 10, 2010

With a new Master of Public Health degree in hand, NWCPHP Research Assistant Heather Burkland will embark on an incredible journey. She is one of 14 University of Washington students to be awarded a Bonderman travel fellowship—an open-ended invitation to see the world.

Each year, seven undergraduate and seven graduate students receive $20,000 each to travel solo for eight months, to at least six countries in at least two regions of the world. Students are not permitted to pursue academic study, projects, or research. Their charge is to simply travel, learn, explore and grow.

Burkland, whose concentration was in social and behavioral sciences, is drawn to places where cultures converge, such as Morocco, Haiti, and Cambodia. She is also interested in cultures that have remained relatively untouched by globalization, including indigenous Amazonian rainforest people in Brazil and the !Kung in Botswana. She also plans to visit India and Ulithi, an atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia where her grandfather served in the Coast Guard.

Heather Burkland Bonderman FellowshipThrough her travels, Burkland intends "to embark upon an exploration of people's everyday lives so as to understand the depth and diversity of human experience across the world." The opportunity for solo travel will give Burkland opportunity for self-exploration, and "by better understanding my inner self, I will be able to more fully engage with community and offer leadership to the causes I care about."

Since UW alumnus David Bonderman established the fellowships in 1995, 151 UW students have had the opportunity to travel. The selection committee seeks students who demonstrate integrity, the capacity for vision and leadership, and potential for humane and effective participation in the global community.

After she returns, Burkland plans to pursue a career in global health, ideally based in Africa, working on issues of reproductive health and/or HIV/AIDS. She is also considering going on to complete a PhD in public health.

As a Research Assistant at NWCPHP, she helped develop an online training module on public health preparedness for mass gatherings, and another on public health law, as well as contributing to NWCPHP's 20th anniversary campaign.

Burkland earned her BA in International Studies and Anthropology from Macalester College in Minnesota. Before moving to Seattle, she coordinated international family planning and reproductive health programs in Washington, DC, and managed health promotion programs for Somali refugees in Minneapolis.

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