Dettenwanger and Mondy at Conference

Two Master of Public Health students were awarded first place in a poster competition at the Missouri Public Health Association Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Katherine Dettenwanger and Jessica Mondy presented their poster, Rural Ecuadorian Community Health Assessment, which detailed their time in Agua Fria, Ecuador.

Dettenwanger and Mondy traveled and worked alongside Missouri Science and Technology’s Engineers Without Borders team from July 29 to Aug. 10, 2019.

While in Agua Fria, Dettenwanger and Mondy evaluated the general health status of the community through interviews and environmental observation. The information collected was used to assess the health effects and outcomes related to the lack of access to clean water.

The students from Missouri Science and Technology’s Engineers without Borders team then designed and implemented a rainwater catchment system near the local school. The system provides a safer alternative for drinking water.

Dettenwanger explains, “It’s awe-inspiring to see what collaboration between two very different disciplines like engineering and public health can accomplish when working toward a common goal to improve lives around the world.”

MPH students have collaborated with Engineers Without Borders on trips like this one for almost ten years. Through these cooperative efforts, the groups provide comprehensive resources for the communities that are visited.

“Together, both groups provided the community with a way to promote positive health outcomes with access to clean water and education via the rainwater catchment system from the S&T students and the MPH students with water treatment recommendations and hand hygiene, respectively,” says Mondy.

Dettenwanger and Mondy speak with the community about water treatment and hand hygiene.

Both the master of public health students and engineer students, overcame challenges that required critical thinking and problem solving.

Lynelle Phillips, one of the coordinators of the trip, explained how this experience is “an opportunity for students to learn in ways that are difficult to teach in the classroom.”

“They will learn about the realities of life without a clean water source or modern sanitation,” Phillips said.  “They will admire the resilience, spirit, and graciousness of the people they encounter. They will gain experience in critical competency areas in public health, and for sure, they will help save lives.”

Dettenwanger and Mondy’s poster includes detailed methodology and their findings from the trip.

Two additional MPH students also received recognition at the conference. Angela Johnson and Tyler Lero earned honorable mention for their poster, Geographic and Temporal Trends in Missouri Immunization Exemption Rates.