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ASU undergrads win Circumnavigator Awards

ASU undergrads and Circumnavigator Award winners Nirali Patel and Annie Carson
December 09, 2014

Arizona State University undergrads Annie Carson and Nirali Patel have been named 2015 Circumnavigator Award winners.

Valued at around $9,000, the award is offered by the philanthropic Circumnavigator Club Foundation to support students’ global scholarship.

Winners are required to complete a research trip during the summer that involves at least 10 weeks of travel through a minimum of five countries in at least three continents or geographic regions. Their projects must further global understanding.

Carson and Patel are global health majors in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Patel is also majoring in biological sciences, focusing on genetics, cell and developmental biology.

The daughter of a former refugee from Uganda, Patel feels compelled to investigate the refugee experience. She has shaped her project as a socioeconomic analysis of integration practices and outcomes in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) resettlement programs.

“By meeting with individuals from refugee centers, non-governmental organizations, UNHCR offices and social work universities, I hope to better compare the four central indicators of integration – education, employment, housing and health – among the countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees,” she explains.

Patel will conduct her research in Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Turkey and the U.K.

Carson’s project was inspired by the 1990 United Nations’ goal to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015, making next year an ideal time to research the status of maternal health care on a global scale.

Her field sites will be Australia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Rwanda and Sweden. Carson previously visited Rwanda on a family trip, but it will be her first time experiencing the other countries.

“I am designing a project that will study how the integration of midwives into health care systems influences maternal health,” she says. “I plan to visit midwife training facilities, clinics, hospitals and health policymakers in each country, to interview midwives and learn more about their maternal health care systems.”

Carson says she hopes to forge a career in maternal health care through medical practice or by engaging in public health research and policy.

Patel's career plans entail combining her passion for international work with her interest in medicine and health care delivery.