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Adventure Seeker Sets Eyes on Global Health
By Shannon Williams
Annie LaVigne, Class of 2018, is a world traveler, and each global experience has strengthened her desire to help others.
Just after college graduation, LaVigne received the Harvard Frederick Sheldon Travelling Fellowship, affording her the opportunity to live in South Africa for a year in pursuit of an interest that has yet to be explored. LaVigne’s lifelong passion happens to be sharks.
“My primary role in South Africa was therefore working on a great white shark cage diving boat, serving as an educator, dive assistant and deck hand,” LaVigne said. “I witnessed quality-of-life disparities in the social and economic landscape that further strengthened my capacity for empathy.”
After fracturing her arm, LaVigne says an unexpected trip to one of Cape Town’s hospitals gave her a glimpse into the health care system from the eyes of a patient and reconfirmed her interest in global health.
After her first year of medical school, she travelled to Gaborone, Botswana for two months. She soon chose History of Medicine as her concentration and designed a project to explore the history of palliative care development in Botswana.
“Working with the country’s only palliative-care-trained physician left a lasting impression in revealing not only the impact of her work but also how few patients were able to access such care and how many truly needed it,” LaVigne said.
LaVigne’s experiences in Botswana allowed her to realize that global oncology, and more specifically radiation oncology, was what interested her most.
“I strongly believe that this realization has helped guide and shape my time at Hopkins,” LaVigne said. Compelling me to seek avenues to fill in these gaps, it has inspired ongoing research, publications, clerkship presentations, outside reading and conversations with individuals in the field. I feel incredibly fortunate to have received such strong support from Hopkins to deepen my interest and only further validate my decision to apply into radiation oncology.”