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Ketnie Aristide takes public health’s message to Botswana

| Academic & Student Affairs, Monday Letter, Our World, Undergraduate

Ms. Ketnie Aristide recently received the biggest assignment of her life—in August she reports to Botswana for a two-year placement with the Peace Corps.

Ketnie Aristide (10)

As a member of the Clinic and Health Team, Aristide works directly with the HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project. According to her official assignment notification, she’ll work in partnership with local health professionals to “address needs in community health and HIV/AIDS, especially through clinic health education outreach, district-level research, data analysis, and coordination.”

“I look forward to my hands-on experience abroad, applying what I learned here [College of Public Health], interacting with different people, and learning new cultures,” said Aristide.

A native of Haiti, Aristide’s family immigrated to the United States in 2004. The family of four settled in Ft. Pierce, Florida—a locale that is vastly different from her homeland.

If she could relive her adolescence over again, she’d definitely pump the breaks. “I sometimes wish that I didn’t graduate high school with my associate’s degree so that I could spend all four years at USF,” said Aristide. “I wanted to be more involved on campus, but still managed to enjoy my time here at USF. It’s a great school!”

Evidently, Aristide’s definition of ‘more’ is all encompassing. As an undergraduate in public health, she served as social co-chair for Club Creole; performed with dance teams at USF and her church; and, holds membership in USF’s African Student Association and the National Council for Negro Women.

How much ‘more’ could she squeeze into three years? How about running for Miss Haiti in 2012!

It was Aristides’s first time in pageantry and she placed second. Her talent featured a skit and cultural dance to empower women. “I wanted to dispel negative stereotypes and remind women that we have a say in matters beyond our household.”

“We can be involved in politics. We can get an education.”

At the conclusion of her first semester at USF, the biomedical science major realized, “This is not for me!” The program included math and science courses which greatly interested her, but lacked the human element.

“I love the fact that public health is such a broad field and there are countless opportunities—one can explore the global, administrative, or even data side of health.”

Aristide’s dream job is working with an NGO as a liaison between Haiti and the United States. Until then, she’ll focus her efforts on The Corps and contributing to HIV/AIDS education and research in Botswana.

“My mom is supportive, but my grandparents don’t understand the concept of going abroad and not getting paid.”

Ms. Aristide sees the benefit and is going anyway.

When asked what she’ll miss the most, Aristide shares, “Family, friends, Wi-Fi, and access to electricity 24/7.” Then in her next breath, she recalls her transition to the United States.

“I easily adapt to other cultures. When I first arrived here [US], I didn’t like American food, but that changed and now I like it and cook it. Plus, we didn’t have electricity in Haiti and I survived.”

Aristides’s one wish in life is guaranteed success.  “I have a huge fear of failure and that is why I strive to do everything in my power to succeed in everything that I do.”

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