Anthropology Department | July 11, 2018
The summer after her sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame, Lauren O’Connell ’18 found herself working in a hamlet in the Peruvian Amazon so small it couldn’t even be found on a map.
With no cars and just a few dozen families, it was a far cry from the large Atlanta suburb where she grew up. But her study of the region’s medicinal plants – through an Experiencing the World (ETW) fellowship, one of several Kellogg Institute programs for undergraduates – would nudge her toward a career in public health.
So did a close partnership with Kellogg Faculty Fellow Vania Smith-Oka, her advisor in the Kellogg International Scholars Program.
“ISP is probably the best thing I ever did,” said O’Connell, an anthropology and pre-health studies major and Latino studies minor. The program gave her the research skills she would need to thrive academically, and helped her build relationships with other students passionate about having an impact in the world and with Smith-Oka, who guided her through research first in South Bend and later in Mexico.
“Creating a relationship with a professor can be really hard,” she said. “ISP really sets you up to find a mentor, to find somebody to work with you through the entire research process.
“To watch a talented researcher do her job – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Getting that front seat into research is so rare.”
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