Kennedy E. Walls '24

Internship: Telethon Kids (Healthy skin and acute rheumatic fever prevention team)
Location: Perth, Australia
Program: Internships in Global Health
Concentration: Medical anthropology with intended certificates in Global Health and French

What did you do during your internship? 

The scope of work included developing an electronic dashboard to determine and follow the burden of skin diseases in remote Australian communities, specifically in remote Aboriginal communities, as well as serving on two fieldwork teams that afforded me the opportunity to travel to four remote Aboriginal communities within Western Australia in a region known as the Kimberly. I conducted skin screenings and throat screenings on Aborignal youth.   

Why did you choose your internship?

I was drawn to this internship as an aspiring physician invested in ultimately reducing healthcare disparities within marginalized and minority populations. So this summer I was hoping to gain a better understanding of how inequities in health systems, remote geographical settings and broader social factors influence the high burden of skin infections we see in Aboriginal youth. 

What has been most memorable for you? 

Such a rich summer internship makes it difficult to have just one favorite moment, but one of the moments I cherish the most was when I was in the Balgo Aboriginal community conducting field work. I had the opportunity to meet elders and artists who taught me how to make a seed jewelry. 

I sat with one elder and her granddaughter around the fire making seed jewelry by poking tiny red holes with a hot wire for about 40 minutes. Though the majority of my seeds were either cracked or burnt and not usable for the jewelry, I really appreciated being able to hear from the elder about the transgenerational importance of this practice and many others that allowed her to pass down such important Aboriginal traditions to her granddaughter and other generations. 

That prompted me to reflect on the larger lesson learned of cultural health being tied to physical health and the ways in which the two can work together to reinforce each other in kinship ties and ultimately promoting better health for Aboriginal communities.