The University of Iowa

Student Spotlight: Brittany Anderson

November 12th, 2019

As part of International Education Week 2019, Brittany Anderson is one of seven University of Iowa students chosen by a committee of students to be recognized for their leadership and engagement in international education on campus and abroad

Brittany is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Iowa, and the winner of a Fulbright Study/Research in Anthropology to Sierra Leone for 2019-20. Anderson will be using her Fulbright to Sierra Leone to conduct her dissertation fieldwork, examining the long-term social and economic impacts of the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in a context of resource scarcity and fluctuating international aid. She was also the winner of a Stanley International Graduate Award to travel to Sierra Leone in 2018. This will be her third time returning to Sierra Leone to work with Ebola survivors. In Sierra Leone, Santigie Bayo Dumbuya, the founder and the director of the We Yone Child Foundation, said that Anderson was his organization's longest and most dedicated U.S. volunteer. "She has a very strong sense of cultural diversity and [is] capable of mixing together while working with different people from different cultures and disciplines," said Santigie Bayo Dumbuya

“Make the most of your opportunities for travel and adventure, and try for the things that feel out of your reach. You might find your passions in unexpected places.”

Name: Brittany Anderson
Major(s) and minor(s): anthropology (PhD)
Hometown: Sparta, Wisconsin 

What experiences/organizations/programs have you contributed to your international education?

As an undergraduate, I studied abroad in Italy for a J-term and conducted research on ideas of risk and health as a research assistant in Ukraine. When I came to graduate school, I decided to do research in Sierra Leone. I received a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research to study the long-term effects of quarantine. I currently conduct research in Freetown, Sierra Leone, working with survivors of the 2014-2016 Ebola Epidemic. I will return to Sierra Leone in January to conduct my dissertation research with a Fulbright research award.

What is the most valuable thing that you have learned through your international education experiences?

The most valuable lesson I have learned in my travels and research is that we are more alike than we realize. The similarities that unite us matter more than our differences, and the friendships that you make across the world can be some of the strongest. Also, sunscreen and mosquito repellent are not optional.

If you had one message to pass on your fellow classmates about international education, what would it be? 

Make the most of your opportunities for travel and adventure and try for the things that feel out of your reach. You might find your passions in unexpected places.