Young Alumni: Katherine Austin-Evelyn (’07) evaluates public health and public policy program for Africa
8/18/2013 1:37:52 PM
Katherine Austin-Evelyn ('07) spends her days working to reduce maternal mortality in Uganda and Zambia. She is part of an external evaluation team based at Columbia University evaluating the implementation of the "Saving Mothers, Giving Life” program.
Since graduating from Mount Allison in 2007, Austin-Evelyn has managed to squeeze in an amazing amount of experiences in a short time.
“It's been a bit of a winding road with Mount Allison forming the foundation for everything I have subsequently built,” says Austin-Evelyn.
Along this road Austin-Evelyn has completed two Masters degrees, one in public health from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and one in public policy and gender from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She has been an intern for a Foundation in Calgary; a gender and HIV/AIDS technical advisor for the Malawi Network of AIDS Service Organizations through CIDA in Malawi; and the coordinator of the People's Health Movement South Africa, working for universal health coverage.
Austin-Evelyn is now part of a nine-member team that is evaluating the implementation of a program that aims to reduce maternal deaths.
“The job allows me to travel to Uganda to collect data from health facilities, service providers, and program implementers. Our evaluation will have an impact on how the program evolves in the coming years,” she explains. “It's an exciting, fast-paced endeavour that challenges me at every stage.”
While at Mount Allison, Austin-Evelyn was on the Students’ Union as a councillor and senator for three years and was the coordinator of Rights & Democracy, a human rights advocacy group. On the academic side she was a teaching assistant and intern for both women's studies and Canadian studies.
“Mount Allison is a place where people feel confident and safe enough to take chances, engage in vociferous debate, and explore their passions without restraint or fear. These things have shaped the risks I have taken since.”
Her career began at the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. Austin-Evelyn then received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study at UCT.
“I fell in love with South Africa. My experiences there led me to volunteer at an adolescent AIDS clinic in a township outside the city and intern at a women's health research unit at UCT, which changed the way I see the world.”
At the LSE and in London, she found her interests had shifted. Her passion for feminism had not waned, but moved from the theoretical aspects of gender studies to the more tangible areas of health, policy, and evaluation. The result was a second master's degree at UCT to continue the work in public health she started during her Rotary year.
“In Malawi and South Africa, it felt like everyone I met shed some light on the complexity of the world around me. I continue to be challenged and to grow at Columbia and the possibilities ahead of me are exciting.”