After a three-month long nomination and proposal process, Auguste White ’17 was named next year’s recipient of the Lorant Fellowship. White will serve as an intern to a midwife in Tanzania for a month in June in the hopes of bringing awareness to the medical struggles that underprivileged women face during childbirth.
The Lorant Fellowship will endow White with up to $6,000 to cover any expenses relating to her stay in Tanzania.
“When I really thought about why I wanted to be a part of maternal women’s health it’s because every single person in the entire world has to be born at one point or another. No one lives without encountering birth at some point. I was frustrated, and I am frustrated, that the maternal health systems across pretty much every nation continue to leave women vulnerable and struggling and suffering,” said White during an interview with The Phillipian.
White’s project will focus on helping women in Tanzania undergo labor and, in the process, White will attempt to elevate women from states of vulnerability to comfort. White will be based in the semi-rural community of Moshi, located near Mount Kilimanjaro.
White will work with the villagers to assist with literacy studies, observe medical procedures firsthand and study the intersection between poverty and health care through an internship program called Gap Medics.
“Going to another community, another culture, another country and [engaging with] the most vulnerable will give me a little bit of perspective on how to actually talk to very privileged students about sex-ed,” said White.
White hopes to use the knowledge she gains while working with a midwife to raise the importance of intersectional sexual education to the Andover community.
“I want to get us to a point where the students are able to get informed and strong input on what [sexual education] should look like for students in our age and our demographics, especially in such a diverse place like Andover,” said White.
In Tanzania, only half of all births occur in medical facilities, leaving the other half without adequate access to necessary medical equipment, according to Unicef.
“I chose Tanzania because I was looking at the UN Millennium Goals and Tanzania described achieving improved maternal health by 2015 as impossible, so I wanted to see what it looked like at the other side of that goal. Seeing what that failure has done to the landscape of the country and the politics,” said White.
White felt motivated to shadow a midwife because she wanted to become a midwife or an actor herself after her favorite television show “Call the Midwife.”
“I just Googled ‘midwife shadowing opportunities abroad’ and there were a couple that were for 18 and older so I wouldn’t be able to go to those, but then after continuing to search online, I found Gap Medics,” said White.
White looks forward to helping to care for babies and also learning more about the country of Tanzania.
“The thing I’m looking forward to the most is getting to play with a bunch of babies, I think it’s what I’m good at and it’s what I love to do. Also, I’ve never been to Tanzania before, so I’m excited to see what it’s going to look like, what it’s going to feel like, who the people are and what the history has done to the nation,” said White.
The Lorant Fellowship Council consists of Dale Hurley, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science; Monique Cueto-Potts, Director of Community Engagement; Keith Robinson, Instructor in Biology and Chemistry; Emma Frey, Instructor in History and Social Science; and Kassie Archambault, Admissions Counselor. The Council selects one recipient of the Fellowship annually, and several Uppers were nominated by their peers in the Fall Term for demonstrating strong character and citizenship.
In early December, the three finalists, White, JayShawn Fuller ’17 and Rosie Poku ’17 were notified by the Lorant Fellowship Council. Then the finalists used the Winter Break to discover a project they wanted to pursue. Once they returned, each nominee proposed a project which was then voted on the committee members.
“I spent the time with my mom and my sisters just looking over online at programs that I’d want to participate in… I had this little booklet with pictures and ideas and the descriptions of the programs that I wanted to go on,” said White.
“[Auguste] was very organized. She did a great job of presenting a good idea and a lot of it comes down to not necessarily not how good the project was but the passion that they have for them. Ultimately, we’re looking for somebody that’s going to come back and do something with what they’ve done,” said Hurley in an interview with The Phillipian.
Once White returns to Andover in the Fall Term, she will give a presentation during All-School Meeting on her project. Hurley hopes the experience will give White the opportunity to experiment with potential future career paths in this area.
“I hope that somewhere down the road she pursues it further. That’s ideally what we want to see… It may not be exactly what she’s doing but at least it gives her a chance to sort of play with the idea. I think it will be interesting. I think that the thing I like about it most is that [Lorant Fellowship winners] end up doing something more with what they’ve experienced. Some of them actually change their college majors just from their experience,” said Hurley.
White expressed gratitude that the Lorant Fellowship will allow her to pursue her passions and create positive change in people’s lives.
“The Lorant Fellowship means that I get the chance to do what I love doing every day, which is making people around me feel good… the mere idea that people are being affected by me in a positive way is so rewarding and it makes my heart glow,” continued White.