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Lianne Gonsalves ’10 Receives Boren Fellowship to Support Public Health Initiatives in Ethiopia

posted 2012.05.21

Lianne Gonsalves ‘10 has received a David L. Boren Fellowship which will fund a year in Ethiopia. During her time in Africa, Gonsalves will immerse herself in language acquisition and a qualitative research project.

Beginning in August, Gonsalves will study the Amharic language at Addis Ababa University. After two months, she will move from the capital to the rural Amhara region to begin her research project. Gonsalves will collect data on family planning practices and natural resource use by local communities in the region; she will then use the data to design family planning modules tailored to each community.

Lianne Gonsalves in Venezuela on a trek to the plateau of Mount Roraima.

Lianne Gonsalves in Venezuela on a trek to the plateau of Mount Roraima.

“These modules will integrate birth spacing strategies with increased awareness of resource overuse by growing populations,” says Gonsalves. “The project’s result uses population stabilization as a climate change resilience strategy and has special significance from a national security perspective based on its potential to improve health outcomes and reduce environmental degradation in a U.S. ally.”

Gonsalves’ project is one piece of an ongoing collaboration involving students and faculty at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Addis Ababa University. The cross-disciplinary team incorporates public health along with physical, agricultural, and environmental sciences, and was initially assembled to provide assistance in Ethiopia’s battle against a changing climate; Ethiopia’s geographic location makes it especially susceptible to extreme weather events, including drought, heat waves, and flooding.

Gonsalves is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public health within the Department of International Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the oldest school of public health in the world. She graduated fromNC State in 2010 with degrees in biological sciences and international studies. During her undergraduate career, Gonsalves participated in two internships with the U.S. Department of State — one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Honduras, as well as studied abroad in Guatemala. She was a national finalist in ballroom dancing and served as president of the Ballroom Dance Team. Gonsalves was a coxswain on the Rowing Club and a member of the Order of Thirty and Three, Phi Beta Kappa, and University Ambassadors. She was selected to deliver the student address at the 2010 spring commencement ceremony.

After graduation, Gonsalves was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and spent a year in Venezuela strengthening her students’ English language ability and knowledge of the United States. She was one of 1,500 American citizens abroad during the 2010-2011 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Following her year as a Boren Scholar, Gonsalves is obligated to search for employment within the federal government. She is interested in returning to Ethiopia in the future to further her language skills and begin work on the next phase of her project in the Amhara region.

Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. These fellowships are funded by the National Security Education Program, which focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.