Majors present their Honors Projects

Three Health Studies majors who are in the Honors College recently presented the results of their honors projects to the URI community on May 3.Portia Eastman (Woodstock, NH) developed a volunteer trip to trip to Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity, which took place in January 2017. She planned the trip, including developing volunteer activities, completed fundraising, and recruited URI volunteer to participate. Portia explains that “Before the trip, I spent a lot of time learning how to lead a team into a community and how to do it correctly. When first entering a community, it is all about listening,portia honors learning, and understanding of what has worked, what has not, and the history of the area. Then comes self-reflection.  When you are engaging in a community it is all about being gracious and building relationships. Lastly, exiting a community is always about sustainability, whether it be sustaining the change you’ve made in yourself, the change you’ve made in the community, or the change you’ve made upon the issue at hand.”   Ms. Kim White served as a mentor on the. Portia will spend the summer working as mosquito technician for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.


Nick Tierney (North Kingstown, RI) completed his project entitled “Learning to Sing.” This semester-long endeavor was a personal analysis of the processes involved with learning to sing within a group. Joining University Chorus was the central piece to the project; the group rehearsed every Tuesday from 7-9:15 in image1the Fine Arts Center. After a vocal test, Nick sang both tenor and bass, and his journey of learning to sing was supplemented with personal feedback and guidance provided in a journal shared with his mentor, Dr. Audrey Cardany. The group sang four songs–two with the Community College of Rhode Island’s chorus–each in a different language, Spanish, Portuguese, English, and Latin. The groups performed twice at the end of the semester. When asked whether Nick met his project’s goals–to develop his ability and confidence as a singer, read music, harmonize with a group, and perform live on stage for an audience–Nick replied, “Yes.” After graduation, Nick will be traveling to British Columbia to hike and sail his way to fulfilling his dreams of being a real mountain man. He will also start the one-year MBA program at URI this fall.


Heidi Weheidiidele (Scituate, RI), conducted a detailed analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data exploring the relationships between socioeconomic and demographic factors and family planning needs in Zimbabwean females with Dr. Cohen serving as her mentor. Heidi’s analysis revealed that low socioeconomic status was the strongest indicator of unmet need for family planning—the gap between women’s reproductive intentions and their contraceptive behaviors or ability to obtain contraception.  She also found that older and richer women living in urban areas were more likely to have terminated their unwanted pregnancies than other women.  The results of this analysis highlight the need to improve contraception availability in the populations with the greatest unmet need.  Heidi notes that future analyses could lead to tailoring interventions and programs designed to reduce socioeconomic disparities in unmet need and ensure that all populations who want contraception can access it. Heidi will be attending the MPH program at Brown University next Fall.

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