Student Travels to Guatemala to Practice her Public Health Skills

Published: April 1st, 2013

Category: Student News

Cristelle GarnierRather than lounging around on her spring break, Cristelle Garnier embarked on a trip to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to put her Public Health training into practice.

Garnier, an MPH student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences track, wanted first-hand experience with helping an international community. “I felt that Guatemala was the perfect destination for me due to their high rates of illiteracy, poverty, and malnutrition,” said Garnier. Born in Canada with a Haitian ethnic background, Garnier has been interested in International and Global Health for quite some time.

The trip was planned by the Florida Alternative Breaks at the University of Florida. Garnier, along with six other students, focused on improving teaching conditions and helping young Guatemalan children with reading, writing and mathematics. In addition, Garnier gave a presentation to the children for International Women’s Day, allowing her to apply her ten years of Spanish education.

Although Garnier believes her International Health course, taught by Dr. Burns, prepared her for some of her expectations going into an impoverished country, she also believes experiencing it first-hand is invaluable. “I think the biggest lesson I learned from this trip is how important it is to improve my awareness and understanding of different countries and cultures as well as their social barriers so that I can one day make a difference,” she commented.

Garnier’s active involvement throughout her academic endeavors demonstrates her long-standing passion for Public Health. She has extensive history with the Minority Association of Pre-Health and was the Student National Medical Association Liasion. In addition, she is currently the historian for the Public Health Student Association (PHSA).

Prior to graduating in Spring 2014, Garnier hopes to complete an international internship at a place such as the World Health Organization. She hopes to one day merge her Health Education and Public Health background by continuing her graduate education in Health Policy.