Hello! My name is Audra and I am a class of 2016 Baldwin. My years in undergraduate were very transformative. I came in with an initial, hard-headed notion that I would go into a career related to Zoological studies, some sort of focused field work and research in the world of animals (non-human to be exact). I was one of the few non-premed Biology majors and devoted much of my outside of class time to the Duke Lemur Center. So much, if not the most, of my Duke experience was spent at that wonderful Center and I am grateful to all the experiences and people there. With my desire to work internationally I did a lot of study abroad and international internships, with the intention to gain more field world experience in the studies of ecology, biology, etc. This took me to some incredible places like the Cloud Forests of Madagascar and the Kruger National Park of South Africa and the Peruvian Amazon. Those experiences were ideal prep for the future Zoology track but a resounding factor in each of those experiences kept making me doubt my choice of career - the wellbeing of people, specifically communities living in the surrounding environments that are preserved and protected for the environment but not for the people.
After graduation, my next few years were spent pursuing more experience and education about the dynamic of environmental conservation alongside global health and community wellbeing. This took my on journey through Tamil Nadu, India where various indigenous communities sustained their ancient honey hunting traditions in spite of the dwindling forests due to over-stressed tea farming (the Nilgiris is one of the 3 major tea producing zones in India). Then I eventually made my way back to Peru, where I worked for 2 years in the small of community of Tsachopen of the Yanesha People with work related to WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene). Again, my work was combining the task of public health and environmentalism, in this case the better treatment and maintenance of water systems to provide potable water for the community and at the same time encouraging better preservation of water sources.
This mindset adheres very much to One Health concept, that the wellbeing and health of people is deeply connected to other factors, such as but certainly not limited to: climate change, sustainable development, cultural sensitivity and awareness, globalization, gender equality, etc. I want my work to be intersectional and interconnected. Thus I hope to engross myself in work related to zoonotic diseases (like in the area of Dengue or Zika but to be determined), how to prevent them in especially vulnerable communities, and how to work with those communities to achieve sustainable development that both benefits the people and the environment. This is still a broad goal, which I hope to focus in a bit better with my upcoming Master of Public Heath at Emory University (starting Fall 2020). As always, to be determined.
Beyond that I am an incurable book worm and can find my nose deep in the pages of a novel for hours on end. Otherwise I am the most happy when on long treks through the wilderness, the more wild the better. Those two loves definitely molded my wanderlust tendencies and I wouldn't change that a bit.