When Hannah Dalglish ’16 was considering summer internships, her sociology professors encouraged her to seek an experience abroad. She took the advice to heart.
Not only did she create her own opportunity at an organization that helps HIV and AIDS survivors in Cape Town, South Africa, but she also confirmed her postgraduate aspiration.
“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone at home,” said Dalglish, a Barrington, R.I., resident. “My advisors, professors Hyun Kim and Karen McCormack, encouraged me to find an internship abroad. They truly were the first push that I received to begin looking abroad.”
Dalglish, a sociology major with a double minor in public health and economics, spent seven weeks working with Wola Nani Embrace as a 2015 Wheaton Fellowship recipient. The fellowship provides funding to students undertaking educationally meaningful domestic or international experiences that link to academic or career interests.
“This has been the most influential experience in terms of guiding me to where I wish to go,” said Dalglish, who plans to seek a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in behavioral and social sciences.
Wola Nani, which in Xhosa means “we embrace and develop each other,” is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that combines social work, advocacy and income generation efforts to help people living with HIV and AIDS. The overall goal is to improve their wellbeing and that of their communities.
After hearing about the organization from Ana Brenes-Coto ’15, who interned there in summer 2014, Dalglish contacted the nonprofit, shared her learning goals and was allowed to design her own internship experience.
“As an organization that combines sociology and economics while working in a country with a vast public health problem, I thought that, for my interests, it would be perfect,” she said.
Coming into Wheaton, Dalglish knew that she wanted to pursue a degree in the social sciences. When she took a First-Year Seminar with Professor McCormack, she immediately felt drawn to the coursework, became an assistant in the Sociology Department, and then decided to major in it.
Professor McCormack noted that throughout her time at Wheaton the senior has expanded her skills working in communities and deepened her interest in understanding how social inequality affects one’s wellbeing.
During a local internship at Taunton Housing Authority in the summer of 2014 (working with executive director Colleen Doherty ’90), Dalglish first realized her interest in public health as she began to see in person the direct correlation between income level and poorer health.
Interning abroad, she broadened her knowledge by getting a holistic view of how to successfully help those who are impacted by illness on many levels—from medical to social.
She worked in several departments while in Cape Town. In the Income Generation Program, she helped with the packaging and sales of products. In the Orphaned/Vulnerable Children Program, she created a new database that tracks how many children are served (more than 1,000 between two townships), and organized a manual for the community care workers to teach life skills programs to children and adults.
“The biggest accomplishment was creating the database. I was able in the end to create a database that Wola Nani hadn’t had before that not only tracks how many children and families we provide services to, but also the type of services we provide. This will be used to submit to donors,” she said.
Dalglish’s course work directly led to this summer internship, and her personal experience at Wola Nani will in turn significantly contribute to her senior projects, said Professor Kim. “It is very important for sociology majors to know the world and to experience firsthand how social innovation is often ingeniously created by communities and cultures from outside of the U.S. that have little material resources.
“Hannah is writing an honors thesis now, which is largely inspired by her summer experience. Her way of linking course work with meaningful internships in Taunton and Cape Town is the perfect model for personal and intellectual growth. It is the exposure gained through ‘grounded experiential learning,’ such as Hannah’s at Wola Nani, that empowers and inspires students to intentionally change their communities and their own lives.”
Hannah Dalglish ’16 taking a break at the Cape of Good Hope/Cape Point in South Africa; working with a community care worker and social worker at Wola Nani; and getting an overview on the top of Lion’s Head Mountain in Cape Town