Rwanda research trip highlighted family planning, cultural awareness for Alexandra Schultz.
Sometimes, as Creighton undergraduate Alexandra Schultz discovered, the search for knowledge requires the crossing of oceans and continents.
As the beneficiary of a two-month summer research fellowship from the National Science Foundation, Schultz traveled to the central African nation of Rwanda in the summer of 2022 to study that nation’s family planning program.
Her research there, which involved a team of seven other undergraduate students and two faculty members from the United States and five Rwandan graduate students, was accepted by the Population Association of America for display at a conference in the form of two poster presentations.
Schultz is studying medical anthropology with minors in biology and global health equity on the pre-med track. After graduation she intends to take a gap year to develop skills in a clinical position before attending medical school.
We posed the following questions:
Q. Where are you from?
A. Loveland, Colorado.
Q. What is the nature of this research?
A. We collected data from over 15,000 patients in order to better understand the effectiveness of Rwanda’s family planning program. We formed three teams that interviewed nurses and obtained long-term family planning health records. Each day, we entered information for over 20 variables for each health record into a spreadsheet, which we later analyzed with the help of statistical software.
Q. Do you enjoy field research?
A. Yes. The opportunity to work alongside a culturally diverse group of people in a beautiful African nation taught me a myriad of priceless lessons including important skills like analyzing large sets of quantitative data, working with a team of people, and taking the time to address social and cultural differences.
Have Creighton faculty been helpful?
All of my professors have been encouraging and helpful. My advisor, Dr. Alexander Rödlach, has been particularly helpful. The excitement that professors have about their field of study is very apparent and influenced me to pursue the prestigious NSF research fellowship.
Do you feel Creighton is preparing you for your next step?
What sets Creighton apart is experience outside the classroom. There have been so many opportunities to experience volunteering, guest lectures and much more. Programs like Cortina Community drove me to apply for NSF research. Every experience at Creighton—both in and out of the classroom — has helped mold me into a more curious individual, eager to learn.
Should other students specifically interested in research come to Creighton?
Absolutely. Creighton has many research opportunities across many disciplines. Working closely with faculty members is a valuable experience that has taught me so much and increased my confidence as a student. Creighton has presented me with a myriad of research opportunities, and I am a better student, peer and global citizen because of it.