HWS Scholar
Hobart and William Smith Scholar Natalie Sandoval.

Hobart and William Smith Scholar Conducts Healthcare Research in Rwanda

Winter 2024 | Los Angeles

Last summer, Hobart and William Smith Scholar Natalie Sandoval studied contraceptive health in Rwanda for four weeks as part of the college’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program. As part of her experience, Natalie collaborated with Rwandan locals and clinics, collecting important data around contraceptive health outcomes in the region.

Natalie, a sociology major, first discovered the Summer Research opportunity through one of her professors who encouraged her to apply. Sandoval also credits the Posse Summer Leadership Award, which provides funding to Scholars on unpaid internships, for making the experience possible.

Without Posse, I would not have been able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

“Without Posse, I would not have been able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity,” says Natalie. “The funding helped tremendously with costs. Also, Posse’s intensive selection process helped prepare me for this program’s interview process.”

As part of the program, Natalie participated in the three-day Women Deliver Conference in Rwanda, where she networked with diverse health professionals from various disciplines and sat on panel discussions. She recalls attending a panel where she was the youngest person in the room.

“Although I was the youngest person in the room, Posse prepared me for moments like these – learning to navigate unfamiliar environments, being confident in the uncomfortable, and indulging my curiosity to learn.”

Prior to traveling to Rwanda, Natalie completed two weeks of extensive preparatory coursework at Western Washington University, during which she worked with a cohort of students from different universities to explore contraceptive health access in Rwanda.

Through this research experience, Natalie has realized her passion for research and health informatics. She hopes to pursue a career in health advocacy, specifically supporting marginalized groups.