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Arnold School of Public Health


Public health graduate joins Peace Corps to kick off career improving maternal and child health around the world

December 19, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Summerville, S.C., native Caroline Pascal can point to the exact moment when she knew public health was the right field for her. Pascal’s sophomore English class at Porter-Gaud high school had been assigned to read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof.

“That book sparked my initial interest in public health by introducing me to the huge ongoing global health crisis of maternal mortality and other health-related problems that women and children have to face every day,” Pascal says. “I knew that I wanted to help solve these problems, but did not really know how. My public health program has allowed me to understand the complexities behind health problems in our society and has given me the tools required to address and mitigate these problems.”

She chose UofSC for her undergraduate degree due to the welcoming campus, opportunity to walk on the track and field team and its status as home to the only accredited school of public health in the state. Pascal made the most of her program through regular interactions with advisor and associate dean for undergraduate student affairs Sara Corwin, health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) instructor April Winningham, and clinical associate professor Kara Montgomery

My public health program has allowed me to understand the complexities behind health problems in our society and has given me the tools required to address and mitigate these problems.

-Caroline Pascal, B.A. in public health graduate

Through the Arnold School, Pascal also met HPEB research assistant professor Sayward Harrison, who mentored the Magellan Scholar in studying knowledge and awareness of human papillomavirus and human immunodeficiency virus among college students in South Carolina. “Dr. Harrison has given me valuable knowledge about the research process and about professional development in general,” Pascal says. “Her mentorship has greatly assisted me in my journey to graduation, and I know the lessons I have learned from her and the connections she has provided me with will continue to guide me throughout my professional life.”

The Dean’s List recipient also took advantage of UofSC’s Study Abroad Program to live and learn in Thailand for a semester. During the fall she spent in the country’s largest city of its northern region (Chiang Mai), Pascal learned about global health issues. She also supervised and led activities for a group of preschool-aged children with HIV at an orphanage and provided English lessons to both the orphanage children and to Monks at a local Buddhist Temple.

I decided to apply to the Peace Corps because I wanted more first-hand experience with the global health challenges and problems that I have learned about during my undergraduate career so that I will be better prepared when earning my master’s degree and doctorate.

-Caroline Pascal, B.A. in public health graduate

After her fulfilling study abroad experience, Pascal knew she was ready to conquer a lifelong dream—joining the Peace Corps. “I decided to apply to the Peace Corps because I wanted more first-hand experience with the global health challenges and problems that I have learned about during my undergraduate career so that I will be better prepared when earning my master’s degree and doctorate,” says Pascal, who will spend approximately two years working on a health project in a small village of Ghana. “My main goal while in the Peace Corps is to create lasting relationships within the community and to help create sustainable and positive changes in the village I am working in.”

She chose Ghana because of the country’s focus on improving maternal and child health—areas Pascal has been passionate about since she read Half the Sky in high school. After the Peace Corps, she plans to pursue a master of public health in global health with an emphasis in maternal and child health. One day, she would like to become a global health program analyst or planner who improves the effectiveness and efficiency of aid efforts.

“Public health is the best and most fulfilling major there is,” Pascal says. “This program gives you the skills to work in a variety of fields and make long-lasting and positive changes.”