A Change of Heart: Sarah Webb ’12
Sarah Webb ’12 still vividly remembers her visit to a hospital in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip as a student eight years ago, where she met HIV-positive mothers with newborn babies who were also infected. Namibia has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV prevalence, and while work is being done to treat the nation’s HIV-positive population, the disease is still the country’s leading cause of death.“It’s really painful to see, in person, the severity of illness in an area that just doesn’t have access to care,” she says.
The visit was part of a field school led by Rachel DeMotts, a professor in the Environmental Policy and Decision Making Program, as an extension of her People, Politics, and Parks class. In Namibia, Sarah and three other students examined the connections between local residents, parks, and tourism, and the ways that natural resource management policies affect health care, specifically by isolating communities. Traveling to the rural hospital to deliver donated supplies and speaking with the patients there changed the course of Sarah’s life. Her focus shifted from Washington, D.C., politics to international health care.