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Mildred Kissai, originally from Tanzania, was attending high school in Qatar when she learned about Bard. She’s a Citizen Science Fellow and also works with Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement. Mildred plans to joint major in biology and chemistry.
When I first arrived at Bard, I was torn between political studies and something in the sciences. This is largely because I’m involved in HIV/AIDS work, which really combines both. Ultimately, I was drawn to biology and chemistry because Bard has an awesome science program. There are opportunities here that you wouldn’t get at a big school; there’s a lot more hands-on research experience. I’m trying to blend together research and advocacy. Eventually I want to work in the public health sector, and hopefully do something patient oriented regarding HIV. I’m interested in translational research, a field where you translate discoveries in basic science research into useful remedies to battle human diseases; this may involve taking part in clinical trials.
There’s science to HIV, but there are also the societal effects of the disease. I saw the effects of the epidemic in Tanzania when I was growing up. Anyone you talk to knows someone who’s living with it or has died from it. It’s everywhere. Last summer I went back home to Tanzania to intern at a small nongovernmental organization. The NGO trains volunteers to be peer advocates in order to help out intravenous drug addicts. The peer advocates talk to them, listen to them, and provide resources to help them quit and get health care. I spent the summer doing that. It was really eye opening.
With my interest in health and medicine, I naturally felt drawn to join Bard’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). At EMS, we work with Bard Security to provide emergency medical care on campus. I can directly give back to the community. EMS not only gives me the opportunity to help the people around me but it also allows me to build up my patient–healthcare provider rapport, and skills that will be useful in my career.