Study Abroad in Senegal
A life-changing trip to Ghana during high school led Jillian to want to do international things with her life. She says that the opportunity to return to West Africa through a study abroad program in Senegal was part of what drew her to the Huntsman Program in the first place. In comparison with other study programs she saw while abroad, Jillian says that the one she joined through Huntsman was one of the few where students were given a great deal of freedom, which allowed her to grow both intellectually and emotionally. "We were just regular students at the university and had to integrate ourselves."
Jillian describes her experience as incredible, and has no regrets; in Senegal she got to experience the full spectrum of life in a developing country. After drinking contaminated water, she became sick for an entire month! Interestingly, that experience turned out to be one of the most influential parts of her study abroad experience. Jillian returned from Senegal with a new academic interest in public health and a long-term career goal of working to provide basic needs, such as food and clean water, to vulnerable populations.
The Huntsman Experience
Jillian has customized her Huntsman education to suit her interests in health and development. She's declared a Wharton concentration in Health Care Management, and in addition to her International Studies major, she is also a pre-med student!
Jillian has found that the International Studies major itself was flexible enough to allow her to focus on international topics in health. For example, one of her international business courses, "Private Ventures in Global Health," taught her about how business models can be applied to health care. That same semester, she took a course in the Political Science department called "International NGOs," which gave a very different perspective on how to approach health and development problems across the world. The contrast between the two classes gave Jillian a more balanced perspective.
During the summer after her freshman year, Jillian took advantage of an opportunity to explore health from a different angle. She worked at Pfizer on its marketing team for Viagra!
Beyond the Classroom
Jillian serves on the executive board of Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity. Though she loves being part of the Huntsman community, she also enjoys being involved in a very different kind of group. "While Huntsman provides amazing exposure to people from around the world, through my fraternity, I have had the opportunity to get to know Philly; all of our projects are locally-based," says Jillian. Another way in which she's been involved in the local community is her internship with the Enterprise Center, a nearby non-profit organization that does a lot of community organizing. The organization tries to link people to relevant services that are offered in the community. Jillian has helped them with the creation of a database to facilitate that process, which would not have been possible without her Wharton education.
In addition to her community work, Jillian serves on the executive board of Check One, a multi-racial student association. The group derives its name from the inability to "check just one box on your application." Check One is for people who want to learn more about other cultures or who come from multiple cultures and are interested in exploring their own identity. The group also organizes and an annual Interracial Dating Forum, which Jillian says, "is sometimes controversial, but so much FUN!"