(A featured story from the April 12 Spring Research Fair)
Emma Fitzelle-Jones knew she wanted to work in a field that helped people. And she really liked studying history – especially the scourge of epidemics like Philadelphia’s 18th-century yellow fever outbreak, which killed 10 percent of thatcity’s population.
Those interests crystallized at Franklin & Marshall College into studies of public health, volunteering in public health outreach, and a three-week program in Italy, working with refugees and survivors of human trafficking.
The senior Marshall Scholar’s project, “Capacity of International Organizations to Address Physical and Mental Health,” is the culmination of her work abroad, for which Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian Arianna Fognani advised her.
Fitzelle-Jones met in Rome with international groups that worked daily with refugees before she went to a facility that housed women who were trafficked. She worked with the women and their children within a network of centers operated by Jesuit Refugee Service, to assess what additional needs would be most helpful to them in the long term.
This public-health initiative, she said, was less data driven than it was shaped by interviews with the people who would be served.
“It wasn’t really a traditional research opportunity,” Fitzelle-Jones said.
She worked with local refugee organizations to identify gaps in care that were not being met by those organizations. The focus “became how to promote self-care practices, solutions to reduce stress, [and] how they can be implemented cheaply,” she said.
Fitzelle-Jones and other interns developed a workshop, based on the women’s suggestions, that incorporates meditation, art, music and other activities. They compiled recommendations so the women can continue to be served by what Fitzelle-Jones and her fellow interns learned.
That direct outreach dovetailed with work Fitzelle-Jones already undertakes in the greater Lancaster community. She volunteered with a medical nonprofit, now called Lancaster Health Center, and is now researching with Assistant Professor of Biology & Public Health Harriet Okatchthe factors that deter people from remediating lead paint in their homes.
Those on-campus efforts, Fitzelle-Jones said, combined with her Marshall research project, confirm for her that she’s on the path that fits her best.
“Public health really is the starting point for so many other discussions and disparities in our society,” she said. “You can’t really do anything without some sort of qualitative and quantitative research.”