Undergraduate completes research internship in Southeast Asia

A young woman with long, dark, curly hair and wearing a long black skirt, red and black patterned shirt and black sweater holds up a piece of paper from a spiral-bound notebook. The paper has a hand-drawn Miami beveled M logo and the words Love & Honor handwritten in cursive underneath. In the background are a green lawn, several buildings with tiled roofs, a round pavilion-type structure and a brick building. A tall gold spire extends from the roof of one of the tile-roofed buildings, near the center of the frame.

Miami University psychology and pre-medical studies major Cecelia Favede displays Miami love and honor in front of Bangkok’s Grand Palace. Favede’s trip to the Thai capital in summer 2014 to conduct research on the community health worker system was supported in part by a research award from OARS.

Community health workers (CHWs) help aid public health by serving on the frontline and having a thorough understanding of the health situation of the community they oversee. They strive to be the trusted link between health services and the community, in order to provide access to appropriate services and improve the quality of health care in their communities.

One way CHWs have been able to better aid the members of their designated communities is through analyses of data collected from areas of service. This is the type of contribution Miami University junior and psychology and pre-medical studies major Cecelia Favede was able to make to Cambodia’s CHW program during her research internship this past summer in Thailand. Working for the Oxford University Nuffield Department of Medicine at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), Favede did intensive reading and qualitative analyses of data. Drawing on the literature review, Favede wrote a paper on the roles and motivations of CHWs in their communities and in the eyes of the academic community. Her analysis, which was conducted with NVivo software and a statistical package, allowed her to create a demographic breakdown of the program and form a foundation for future correlational research.

Favede was awarded grants by a variety of Miami University resources, including OARS, in support of her 2014 research experience at the MORU in Bangkok, Thailand. Her mentor for the duration of her internship was Dr. Lisa White, head of Math and Economic Modeling (MAEMOD) at MORU.

During her internship, Favede co-authored a paper analyzing the ethics of the CHW program as a whole. She also collaborated with White and Oxford University’s dean of ethics on a study that analyzed the sustainability and continuity of a CHW project in Cambodia supported by an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. In addition to this, Favede provided input on the ethics of mass drug administration in northern Thailand, assisted Thai PhD candidates with revisions for their theses (which were written in English), helped teach English at the university school, and spent time doing field work.

Favede has been interested in research since high school. As a junior her interest was piqued when she applied for a scholarship awarded on the basis of a scholarly pursuit. That project focused on the psychological and physiological effects of addiction to social media. “I have always been exceptionally interested in the diversity of application of psychological research,” Favede said.

Favede says her time in Thailand provided her with a better understanding of herself, as well as of the world that exists outside of the United States. She cites a favorite quote by Buck Ghosthorse that she feels describes her journey and growth in Bangkok: “Sometimes we have to travel to the edge of ourselves to find our center.”

Now that she’s home, Favede plans to complete the study she worked on during her internship, and anticipates doing more research in the future.

Written by Nicole Antonucci, Communications Intern, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.

Images by Cecelia Favede, used with permission.

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