Amelia Reese Masterson - Beirut, Lebanon

Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Global Health Concentration at YSPH

Career goal: I aim to work in an organization that conducts applied public health research, program design and implementation in the areas of reproductive health, maternal and child health or nutrition. 

Internship outline: This summer I worked as a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to conduct a rapid assessment of reproductive health and gender-based violence among Syrian refugee women in Lebanon. Alongside an OBGYN doctor from the American University in Beirut, I managed a research team that conducted 450 survey interviews with women attending primary health clinics across Lebanon and facilitated three focus group discussions. The research aimed to gather information on general health, reproductive health, pregnancy during the conflict in Syria, experiences of violence and coping strategies. I worked with UNFPA and International Medical Corps to develop the survey tool, oversee survey implementation, conduct data analysis and write a final report summarizing findings.

Value of experience: Through this summer research project I gained invaluable first-hand experience in questionnaire development, study design, management of a research team, data collection and analysis and conducting research among vulnerable populations. Beyond these lessons, I was able to meet an inspiring community of public health professionals in the Middle East, who I hope to stay in close contact with as I pursue a public health career either in the Middle East or among refugee/immigrant populations in the United States. Here at the Yale School of Public Health, we receive rigorous instruction in research methods and are reminded that any study will face challenges in the field, yet having this experience taught me how to manage such challenges and adapt gracefully as needs arise.

Best moment: The most memorable experience from my summer was visiting the home of a Lebanese woman who barely had sufficient resources to support herself, and interviewing the three Syrian refugee families who this generous woman was hosting in her home. The Syrian women we interviewed during this visit recounted terrible acts of violence in their country, and even in Lebanon they could not feel safe with targeted shelling crossing the border and landing near their doorstep. Yet, they expressed that the companionship they found in one another helped them to cope with these experiences.