When Emily Spraggs ’17 created her independent major in global health and development, she could not have realized it would lead to a two-year placement in Botswana with the Peace Corps. Spraggs will leave in July for the African nation, where she will work to develop programs for HIV/AIDS prevention.
“I love learning about alternative medical systems and immersing myself in other cultures,” she says. “This is what I’m passionate about and have studied, and the Peace Corps will allow me to grow and learn in this field.”
Spraggs says she hopes to become a “community resource” on health issues related to HIV/AIDS. Botswana has the third highest rate of HIV prevalence in the world, with nearly 25 percent of adults ages 15 through 49 impacted by the disease. She will work primarily with school counselors who are attempting to reduce the rate of infection among young people.
A resident assistant (RA) at HWS, she believes her experience in creating programs for students will help her. “I will be able to use my RA skills developing floor programs to develop access to people in the community [in Botswana],” she says. “I am especially looking forward to working with children, as I have a lot of experience with them. Even though Botswana is successful in many ways, the HIV/AIDS issues there are very serious, which is why this work is important.”
Spraggs, whose father is South African, visited the continent as a child, and says she “fell in love with the people” when she was there. She applied for several Peace Corps programs but decided the work in Botswana was tailor-made for her skill set. It won’t be her first extended international experience. In 2015, she studied abroad in India, researching the use of the Ayurveda medical system and Indian biomedicine practices on diabetes.
On campus, she is a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, has volunteered at the Geneva Boys and Girls Club, and was active at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree of arts in general studies.
Spraggs credits her HWS education with helping her to gain the knowledge needed to apply successfully to the Peace Corps, and especially her work with Associate Professor of Political Science Vikash Yadav and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Jason Rodriguez. “They helped me to think critically about global work,” she says.