With tears in her eyes, Auguste White ’17 beamed with pride as she showed the audience a photo of the young boy she helped to deliver this summer while interning in Tanzania. As the recipient of the Class of 2017 Lorant Fellowship, White relayed her experiences working in a small Tanzanian hospital over the summer during All School Meeting (ASM) last Wednesday.
The Lorant Fellowship, granted annually to one member of the Upper class, allows a student to travel to another country to pursue a topic of their choice over the summer. This past year, White was awarded the Fellowship, with Rosie Poku ’17 and Jayshawn Fuller ’17 as the two other finalists selected from a crop of nominees.
White said during her presentation, “I chose Tanzania because it has a high infant mortality rate, child marriage, and [female genital mutilation] rates. [The country] has also undergone serious political reform to prevent gender based health issues and discrimination. I wanted to explore my love of adorable babies, science, medicine, and feminism. The fellowship allowed me to see my passions blossom, and to develop inter-cultural connections and competency. It allowed me to see real life applications of Andover’s constitution which charges every student to see beyond themselves.”
During her four-week stay in Tanzania, White interned at St. Joseph’s Hospital where she was able to help assist doctors and observe surgical exams. In addition, she met with women entrepreneurs as well as Maasai warriors – a local nomadic group – and worked under the Network Against Female Genital Mutilation (Nafgem), an organization that rehabilitates and helps women who suffered from female genital mutilation and nonconsensual child marriages.
While at the hospital, White developed a particular connection with a Yvonne, a young 17-year-old mother in the midst of labor. Being the same age, the two shared similar tastes in pop music and Yvonne discussed with White her favorite Biblical story, David and Goliath. When Yvonne’s delayed labor forced her to have an emergency cesarian section, White rushed to the young mother’s side to protect her from doctors about to perform the cesarean section, risking her volunteer position in the hospital and travel visa in the process. White got to Yvonne in time to deliver her baby, and she did not lose neither her position as an intern nor her VISA.
“Being in Tanzania for such a long time, I became a bloodhound for hope. I could smell it from a mile away, it was unmistakable and overwhelming. Once I’ve caught the scent, nothing can stop me from hunting it down. I encountered so much hope in Tanzania, because my experience with the women, the nurses, the doctors, [the mother] and her baby all taught me how resilient hope is,” said White.
White cited the experience as one of most important events of her life because the Lorant Fellowship allowed her to pursue her passion for medicine and feminist healthcare.
White was nominated by members of the student body and faculty last fall and was selected from three candidates, out of a pool of 60 nominated Uppers, to be the recipient of the fellowship based on her proposal last winter.
“It was the most important four weeks of my life, I can say with certainty. It changed me fundamentally, I think about it all the time. When I found out I was nominated for the Lorant Fellowship, it was fantastic and my heart exploded with joy. If you have a crazy idea, but people are willing to support you, run with it. If you feel like something might be misunderstood or it will be hard to present, if people are willing to offer you the support, then I think you should pursue it to its fullest extent,” said White in an interview with The Phillipian.
Later on Wednesday, the Andover community received an email from the Lorant Fellowship Council for new nominations of current members of the Upper class. Dale Hurley, a member in the council and Instructor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, introduced the ASM by stressing the importance of learning both inside and outside of the classroom.
In an interview with The Phillipian, Hurley said, “We pick the student with the most earnest endeavor because they are sort of self-motivated and they do things on their own. We help them, but we don’t tell them what to do, it’s got to come from them. I think in a lot of ways, it’s easy for us because we pick the right people. The whole point is that you pick the person that’s really into what they do.”
White’s hope-filled and positive message struck a chord with Marianne Bautista ’20 who said, “I was very inspired about [being able to reach out to help others]. Just seeing how young Auguste is and how she’s able to go to other countries and help other women give birth and give life into the world, I thought that was very inspiring.”
Max Davis ’19 said, “I didn’t realize how common it was for girls to be married off at such a young age, and I also didn’t realize how common genital mutilation was… I didn’t realize how dire the situation was and I think Auguste really brought that into the light… We’re always so focused on things that affect our lives. This is something that largely doesn’t affect our lives, but is so extremely important.”