The Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) Fellowship is a unique program that places recent college graduates in year-long service-oriented fellowships with Latin American and Caribbean NGOs working in social development. PiLA Fellows work in fields ranging from microfinance to natural resource conservation, health, education reform, community development and human rights. Brooke Bachelor is currently serving as a 2014 PiLA Fellow in Ollantaytambo, Peru, where she is a community coordinator leading valuable public health and education initiatives such as first aid, illness recognition, nutrition, hygiene, and water safety.
Brooke has had a deep passion for health care and the Spanish language since a young age. She studied Spanish and Nursing at the University of Illinois, earned a Post Baccalaureate Pre Medicine Certificate from Northwestern University, and has volunteered in Peru, the Dominican Republic and most recently, in Bolivia, where she conducted diabetes research. We caught up with Brooke to learn more about the PiLA fellowship experience and her fellowship application tips.
1. What inspired you to apply for the Princeton in Latin America Fellowship?
As a critical care nurse for a little over four years, I felt I wanted to explore other areas of health care before I start medical school and refine my Spanish even more. I thought the “glide year”, the year between applying and starting medical school, would be a great time to explore my public health interest. The Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) Fellowship offered me a grand opportunity to work with a health NGO in a Spanish-speaking country. It was a perfect match for me at this point in my career.
2. What is a typical week like for a PiLA Fellow?
As a PiLA fellow, I enjoy the fact that no week is ever the same for me. I am a community coordinator for Sacred Valley Health, which means that I am responsible for coordinating with health promoters from specific communities in the area. In addition to this responsibility, I am generally in charge of organizing and teaching the health trainings for the health promoters on topics like sexually transmitted infections, first aid, warning signs in pregnant women, depression and alcoholism, nutrition, and more. I appreciate that my input is greatly valued.
Ollantaytambo is one of the smallest towns in which I have lived and I have been able to foster many meaningful relationships with the people here. Recently, I have been working to implement a support group for pregnant women in rural mountain communities that will have an emotional support aspect and health checks as well. I am happy to say we just received a grant to put this program into action and we will be starting our pilot soon in a few of the communities in which we work.
3. What tips would you give others applying to the PiLA Fellowship?
I would recommend that applicants have excellent Spanish skills, as this will give you a large advantage in the application process. A willingness to learn and flexibility will also help you both in the interview process and in your placement as a fellow. Also, I think my travel experience gave me content to draw from in my interview, as I gave examples of my flexibility and adaptability when living abroad or during my time interacting with others from a different cultural background.
Brooke Bachelor is from Chicago, IL, and is a registered nurse with a background in critical care and an aspiring physician. She received her B.S. in Nursing and her B.A. in Spanish from the University of Illinois and her Post Baccalaureate Pre Medicine Certificate from Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys giving Reiki treatments as a Level II Practitioner, singing jazz, and making natural products from local plants.
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