Jennifer Peregoy earns global health fellowship in Rwanda

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Jennifer Peregoy, MPH, is an ASPPH/CDC Allan Rosenfield Global Health Fellow in epidemiology in the African nation of Rwanda. She is assigned to the CDC Rwanda office, which is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali. The Allan Rosenfield Global Health Fellowship Program provides international training opportunities for recent graduates of ASPPH-member, CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health at both the MPH and doctoral levels.

Jennifer Peregoy in Rwanda 2

“This fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to gain invaluable global health practice experience,” she said. “Although I’m working as a Global Epidemiology Fellow, I have found that the most important lessons learned so far aren’t necessarily epidemiologic in nature, but in fact revolve around the challenges of implementing public health activities in a low-resource setting, as well as the skills needed to successfully work in a cross-cultural setting. I find the work here to be challenging and interesting, and I absolutely love living in Rwanda!”

A native of Easton, MD, Jennifer completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland with a bachelor of science in zoology before matriculating at the USF College of Public Health to earn her master’s degree, completing the dual-track master’s program in global health practice and epidemiology.

Immediately after graduating, she spent more than two years working at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area working on the National Health Interview Survey. While her primary duties were data production and conducting quality assurance activities, she also was tasked with conducting analytic research projects using NHIS data and producing scientific manuscripts for publication.

Jennifer Peregoy in Rwanda

Reflecting on her USF journey, Jennifer says, “Overall, I had a highly educational experience in the program, in no small part thanks to the support and mentorship I received from Drs. Ran Nisbett (global health practice), Elizabeth Pathak (epidemiology) and Paul Leaverton (professor emeritus, epidemiology).

“The main challenge I overcame was time management,” she says, “specifically, how to balance courses, research and work while attempting to have a social life and maintain healthy habits like exercising and a healthy diet.”

During her time at USF, Jennifer served as co-president of the Global Health Student Association and held research assistantships in the COPH Departments of Global Health and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, as well as the anthropology department in the College of Arts and Sciences. She also served as a teaching assistant in the epidemiology and biostatistics department while polishing her speaking and leadership skills with participation in Toastmasters International.

When asked to characterize her time as a Bull, Jennifer says, “My time at USF COPH will be remembered as a period of personal and professional growth, a time when I discovered my passion and drive to work in global health. I remain grateful to USF COPH for giving me the opportunity to discover and begin an intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding career path.

“I made a great group of friends in my graduate program with whom I’ve remained in touch,” she added, “and who have all since gone on to pursue quite a variety of public health endeavors.”

When she is not working closely with the Ministry of Health, local community-based health organizations and large international non-governmental organizations in Rwanda, she enjoys running, swimming, hiking, gardening, discovering healthy recipes and traveling off the beaten path.

Jennifer Peregoy in Rwanda 3

And, she adds, “I have an odd fondness for the slinky, America’s favorite classic childhood toy. I always keep one in my office!”

“My dream job,” she says, “is to become a nutritional epidemiologist for UNICEF or another similar organization focused on improving health and nutrition for children and women.”

Story by David Brothers and Christi Owiye, USF College of Public Health. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Peregoy.