Public Service Fellow in Rwanda

While most juniors in college are happy just to find a summer job or an unpaid internship that will pay off in the long run, SMU junior Sienna Dugan is working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Rwanda (UNHCR).

Under the guidance of SMU Associate Professor Andrew Quicksill from the Lyle School of Engineering, Dugan is collecting field data on refugee camps in Rwanda including mapping of resources and infrastructure, measurements of structures, photos of infrastructure and land forms, ground truthing of land use, and water and soil samples for lab analyses. The data Dugan collects will then be utilized by both the UNHCR and the Rwandan Government to determine the best allocation of resources to each camp to ensure environmental sustainability for both refugees in the camps and neighboring citizens.

While the United States has recently been censured by U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelat for the conditions of migrant children held on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Rwandan Government is working closely with the U.N. to transform their own refugee camps to uphold international human rights laws and better accommodate the increasing number of inhabitants. As Dugan explains, “the global refugee crisis has reached never before seen proportions,” and “fresh waves of longstanding unrest in the DRC have displaced an estimated 4.5 billion people, many of whom have sought refuge in Rwandan refugee camps.”

Based in a small village by the Tanzanian border with no running water and only occasional electric power, Dugan leaves for the camps every morning at 7:30 a.m. and returns around 5:30 p.m. In addition to her work on camp infrastructure, Dugan has been assisting with food distribution and school enrollment. In Mahama refugee camp, home to around 60,000 refugees from nearby Burundi, Dugan is working with an advocacy group supporting teen mothers who are attempting to finish their high school education.

A Health and Society major at SMU with minors in Global Development and Psychology, Dugan is concurrently taking classes which will count toward an M.A. in Sustainability and Development with an emphasis in Public Health.

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Public Service Fellow in São Paulo, Brazil

SMU senior Carol Sale is volunteering at Associação Saúde Criança in São Paulo, Brazil this summer, but she is not just another volunteer. In addition to her work at this innovative health organization, Sale is also performing an SMU staff-facilitated anthropological study of the moral distress of doctors, psychologists, social workers and lawyers who work closely with many of the severely disabled clients of the NGO.

Saúde Criança is well equipped to work with these clients through a multidisciplinary methodology that acknowledges extreme poverty as the root cause of many of the diseases treated in public hospitals. Consequently, it seeks to eliminate what the organization calls the “vicious cycle” of “poverty, disease, admission into the hospital, discharge, re-admission and death” ( Called the Family Action Plan (FAP), the methodology identifies the five areas of Health, Education, Citizenship, Housing and Income as crucially interconnected, and seeks to help families become more stable and capable of caring for their children not only during hospitalization but afterwards as well.

While the staff and professional volunteers at the organization are well-equipped for this multi-disciplinary work with families and children, such work can be exhausting. The overwhelming task of caring for sick/disabled children and their impoverished families often leads to what Sale identifies as “moral distress,” or “the feeling that comes about when individuals have done everything within their power, but know that it is still not enough.” Sale expects that this feeling is particularly pronounced among public health workers and volunteers in Brazil, a country which, like the United States, is suffering from a lack of access to affordable health care coupled with increasing economic inequality. Sale hopes that her study will help illuminate both the changes that need to be made to these systems and the ways that Saúde Criança is already succeeding against these odds.

Sale, who is pursuing a triple major in Human Rights, Health and Society, and Biology with a minor in Spanish is performing her research this summer under the direction of SMU Anthropology professor Carolyn Smith-Morris. Her funding comes from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility through the 2019 Maguire Public Service Fellowship.

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Cartago, Costa Rica: #SummerofService

We’re travelling to Central America for this week’s Public Service Fellowship Spotlight! Rising SMU junior Jessica Jancose is spending her summer volunteering in Cartago, Costa Rica on a project offered by UBELONG at a government-supported community center for the elderly.

While the majority of our Public Service Fellows are serving right here in DFW, a couple are spreading their wings and serving internationally. Jessica Jancose, an SMU senior, is spending her summer in beautiful Costa Rica. While she has made time for some fun activities along the way, her Fellowship is being spent in the warm company of Costa Rica’s senior citizens in need of friendship and care.

Jessica is a double major in Health and Society and Human Rights with a minor in Women and Gender Studies and is on the pre-med track.  She believes in fighting against the mentality that senior citizens are no longer productive members of society. The government-supported center where she is working, Ascate, serves around 100 senior citizens, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. IMG_3543As a volunteer, Jessica is responsible for providing them with emotional support and promoting a fun environment through helping out with games, exercises and other activities. “By the end of my project I hope to have made a meaningful impact on the lives of the people in Ascate – both the employees and the senior citizens who frequent the center.”

Before starting her work at Ascate, Jessica immersed herself in the Spanish language and Costa Rican culture by participating in the SMU Spanish language program in Heredia. Increasing her language proficiency in Costa Rica this summer will allow Jessica to one day become a better healthcare provider and allow her to advocate for Spanish-speaking people across a range of issues. While she says she still has a long way to go before considering herself fluent, she says immersing herself in the culture and language has been invaluable. “I can’t wait to come back to Latin America and improve my language skills further and hopefully in my future use these language skills to help America’s Spanish speaking population in the field of public health.IMG_3682

Not only has her volunteer work made a big impact on the Cartago community, but it has influenced her future plans as well. “Education is free here in Costa Rica and I would love to come back after graduation to earn my Masters in Public Health. Being immersed in a Spanish speaking country after only a year of Spanish has probably been the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done but it’s also without a doubt been the most rewarding.”

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Moorland Family YMCA: #SummerofService

This week our Maguire Fellow Spotlight shines on SMU junior Shelby Hill. Shelby is volunteering at the Moorland Family YMCA in Oak Cliff, coaching youth sports and facilitating education enrichment programs.

image1It is a hot summer afternoon, and just down the white stairwell at the Moorland Family YMCA in Oak Cliff, Shelby Hill and her colleagues guide the student programming participants from the swimming pool to the science and learning rooms inside. It’s a hot day but the students are lively, joking and smiling with one another and their teachers. Whether they’ve come from down the street or nearly an hour’s commute away like Shelby, all of the YMCA supervisors share the same goal of a fun, education summer for their campers.

Shelby was born and raised in Frisco, Texas. She spent her childhood playing a variety of sports and was a member of the marching band. Shelby is dedicating this passion for involvement in athletics and extracurricular activities to inspire the children of the YMCA in South Dallas. Not only is she coaching sports teams but she’s also offering her experience as a tutor and starting a reading challenge for the children. “I want to help them find their potential, whether that potential is in academics or sports, and start them on the road to success.”

lh4.googleusercontentDescribing Shelby’s daily summer life as busy would be an understatement. She balances volunteering daily at the YMCA with taking a summer class at SMU.  As you can imagine, it has been difficult to instill the same drive in the children she works with. “My greatest challenge this summer has been one that probably could’ve been foreseen before I even began volunteering at the Y: getting kids to do math and science in the summer.”

image4Shelby sees her work at the Y going far beyond her work this summer. “Ultimately, I think this project will encourage me to continue to find ways to help kids of all backgrounds through education.”

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Texas Health, Dallas Medicine: #SummerofService

Thanks for joining us for the second Maguire Fellow Spotlight. This week we’re hearing from Parker Miller, an SMU rising senior serving the doctors, nurses and staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and the Texas Institute for Surgery.

Texas_Health_PresbyterianClose your eyes (and internet browser) and try to name the hospitals in Dallas. Go ahead, try it. You can probably think of a few major players: Baylor, Children’s, Texas Health Resources, Medical City. The truth is there are over 80 hospitals in the DFW area. While that may seem like a large number, a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the state of Texas has 2.4 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents, just below the national average of 2.6.

While many of those beds are here in north Texas, there’s still work to be done to make sure everyone receives quality care when it matters the most. Hospitals in Dallas rank among the best in the country, and the doctors and nurses that serve the north Texas community work tirelessly to keep up with the constant stream of patients. Maguire Public Service Fellow Parker Miller is helping lighten the load for the doctors, nurses and staff at two healthcare facilities this summer and learning the joys, struggles and the ins-and-outs of healthcare in Dallas along the way.

Parker’s service is two-fold: he is serving the doctors and nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as well as the staff at the Texas Institute for Surgery. “The main goal of my work is to help make the patients’ stay as comfortable and easy as possible, as well as alleviate the load placed on the physicians, nurses, and staff,” says Miller.

“As a volunteer I do a lot of tasks that may seem like they do not make much of a difference like answering patients on the phone, bringing patients blankets, or bringing them back to their rooms, but all of these tasks make it so that the physicians and nurses can focus on patient care.”

Parker splits his week between the two facilities, providing important assistance at both locations. Occasionally he takes up the mantle of marketing and patient data analysis in the Neuroscience department, and occasionally has the opportunity to go on rounds with physicians and observe surgery. As if these responsibilities weren’t enough, Parker was chosen as the leader of the SERV program, a rigorous branch of the adult volunteer program open to all college students wishing to pursue a health-care career as a nurse, PA or physician. This expands his duties to conducting interviews of potential SERV volunteers.

Needless to say, the experience has affirmed that a career in Parker Millermedicine is in Parker’s future. He recently completed his primary application for medical school and is anxiously awaiting the results.

Volunteering this summer has shown me so much about how the business of medicine works, what I should expect in the future, and to have an open mind going forward.”

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Bryan’s House: #SummerofService

June 24 begins an exciting weekly profile from the Ethics Center targeting a Maguire Public Service Fellow who is dedicating time this summer to public service or ethical research. This week we’ll be visiting with undergraduate senior Claire Wilt who is volunteering with Bryan’s House, a non-profit caring for Dallas children diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and other debilitating illnesses.

Just west of Westmoreland Road in West Dallas is Bryan’s House, a non-profit organization offering medically managed care for children, adolescents and teens. What began as a care center for children affected by HIV/AIDS over 27 years ago has expanded in support to families living with cerebral palsy, autism, Down Syndrome, and a range of medical conditions. Maguire Ethics Center Public Service Fellow Claire Wilt is volunteering with the non-profit this summer.

“My work at Bryan’s House varies greatly day to day,” says Wilt. “From building and managing social media presence for the organization…working with local TV stations and other media to promote the agency…[website] content updates and coordination with writers, editors and staff, and administrative projects.”

Claire Wilt

Maguire Public Service Fellow Claire Wilt hard at work at Bryan’s House in West Dallas.

Bryan’s House began in 1987 with a group of volunteers who started providing hospice care for Dallas children sick and dying with HIV/AIDS. This child care was conducted initially from their own homes and was soon moved to a renovated home center in the Oak Lawn area. The organization was named Bryan’s House after the son of Lydia Allen, a founding volunteer, who was among the first children in the Dallas area to die from AIDS.

“Spending my summer helping those facing these serious health problems will allow me to gain a new, more encompassing perspective as I open my eyes to the ineffable suffering of many people and the importance of providing a support system for them to rely on.”

Claire is dedicating her summer to increasing the visibility of Bryan's House online and in the community.

Claire is dedicating her summer to increasing the visibility of Bryan’s House online and in the community.

Because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now view AIDS as a chronic disease that can be medically managed and federal funding has therefore reduced, Bryan’s House is meeting the needs of low-income families struggling with other uniquely difficult disorders. But there are big plans on the way for the organization.

“This summer Bryan’s House is opening up a second infant room as part of our Heroes Program which will provide care for sick children from low-income, at-risk families,” says Wilt. “Bryan’s House is always looking for new ways to help more families in the Dallas community.”

A few colorful features of the Bryan's House outdoor play area.

Colorful features of the Bryan’s House outdoor play area.

 The SMU Maguire Ethics Center is proud to support Claire’s valuable work this summer as a Public Service Fellow. Make sure to come back next week for more inspiring stories of service from our other Maguire Public Service Fellows.

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Our Financial System is only as Strong as Our Confidence, says Terry Smith, CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

“Tell It Like It Is: The Ethics of Financial Transparency” is the first panel session today at the Ethics, Trust & Transparency  conference and features Terry Smith, President and CEO, Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, with Allan Sloan, Senior Editor-at-Large, Fortune.

“I believe the most important lesson the recent financial crisis taught us is that our financial system is only as strong as the confidence it instills in those that rely upon it.” says Terry Smith. “Market participants lost faith in the accuracy of the information they were receiving from both the private sector and government.  The level of uncertainty created by the resultant distrust of any clear, transparent information related to the condition of major corporations and potential government responses led to the near-collapse of global capital markets.

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Good Capitalism Lifts People and Raises Happiness, says Doug Levy

Speaking at the Ethics, Trust and Transparency conference this week, Doug Levy is the CEO of imc² believes strongly in the power of capitalism and the importance of preserving the ethics within capitalism.

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The Difference in Transparency and Disclosure from Allan Sloan of Fortune

On Wednesday at the Ethics, Trust and Transparency conference, Allan Sloan the Senior Editor at Large for Fortune will speak on a panel dealing with financial transparency.

“There’s a huge difference between transparency and disclosure,” says Sloan. “Companies, especially companies doing business on Wall Street, make endless disclosures-but they’re not necessarily of any use to anybody other than the company and the people who get paid big bucks to create opaque documents.

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We cannot rely purely on rules to govern ethical behavior, says conference speaker Judy Nadler

Senior Fellow in Government Ethics for Santa Clara University, and speaker at this week’s Trust, Ethics & Transparency conference, Judy Nadler explains, “The law is the floor, not the ceiling. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is ethical. It is critical to view ethics from a values-based perspective.”

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