Katrina Lewis, BSN ’19, has always known how to work hard, take chances and push herself outside of her comfort zone. Since arriving at Drexel in September 2014, she’s already developed an impressive resume that includes leadership, research and – soon enough – international work experience.
In just a couple weeks Lewis will travel to Zambia, Africa with World Vision – a humanitarian organization dedicated to improving health equity, poverty and injustice – where she will participate in a WASH (water, air, sanitation and hygiene) project.
“I’m really excited because the project will focus on hand washing and hygiene so I’ll get to work in a community setting,” said Lewis. She’ll also get to practice her bedside nursing technique as she deploys various stages of the project.
Lewis was introduced to this project, and to World Vision, through her public health minor and classmates. “I found out about Africa through the Campus-based Leaders (CBL) ambassador program,” said Lewis, which is a group that connects Gates Millennium Scholars on college campuses. Once she identified World Vision’s program, she worked with the Dornsife School of Public Health – Global Development Scholars Program and the Steinbright Career Development Center to make her goal a reality.
This isn’t the first time Lewis had a lofty goal but wasn’t afraid to chase it.
Hailing from Miami, Florida, Lewis knew she wanted to leave her hometown for her post-secondary education, but wasn’t sure where. Once Drexel was on her radar, though, she was determined to make it work.
“My friends and I all made a pact in high school that we would leave the Miami area and do great things,” said Lewis, “So I went to my advisor and let her know that I wanted to go to college for free.” Lewis was able to achieve her goal and was offered a scholarship through the Gates Millennium Scholars program. It was through this program that she ultimately found World Vision and the Zambia project.
Once Lewis matriculated at Drexel she immediately got to work. Lewis joined the Freshman Academic Seminar program to help get acclimated to life at Drexel and meet new people, including faculty. During her time in the seminar she learned about the STAR Scholars program – or Students Tackling Advanced Research – and was introduced to Joan Bloch, PHD, associate professor in the Nursing Department. After applying and ultimately being accepted to STAR Scholars, Bloch and Lewis ultimately partnered and worked jointly on a research project.
Over the summer, Lewis assisted Bloch with a project focused on maternal and pediatric health. “I was analyzing the home visit data of pregnant women diagnosed with diabetes,” said Lewis. Her investigation of data aligned with Bloch’s preexisting research interests which focus on urban women’s health, prenatal care and health disparities. “I was also looking forward to getting to know some professors since they’re so current in their fields and are always doing amazing things,” said Lewis.
Even though the premise of her international Co-op with World Vision may be different, Lewis hopes to apply some of the skills and techniques learned over the summer with Bloch as her mentor.
Be sure to follow Katrina as she ventures to a new culture and learns first-hand how to improve community health!