Since they were established in 1998 the American Friends of LSHTM have been raising funds for scholarships that enable the most gifted American students to take their place at LSHTM. Jasmine Burton was one such recipient and in 2016 she began her MSc Public Health, taking the next step in an already exciting career in global health.
“At the 2011 Georgia Tech Women’s Leadership Conference, I was challenged and inspired by Susan Davis of Improve International to “do something” about the global toilet and sanitation crisis. This conference ignited my passion for improved WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) infrastructure around the world. My Georgia Tech studio curriculum revolved around health and wellness; studio was our “design lab” where we ideated, iterated, and fabricated design ideas and brought them into reality.
Through this studio, I had the opportunity to research and design concepts which will help solve menstrual hygiene, solar cooking, and sanitation issues in low income communities. I went on to found Wish for WASH, LLC (W4W), a social impact organisation that seeks to bring innovation to sanitation through culturally specific research, design and education. I lead a cross-sector team of engineers, designers, researchers and business people who are collectively working to iterate our SafiChoo toilet design to best meet user needs in the developing world, beginning in southern and eastern Africa.
I knew that pursuing a Master’s in Public Health from LSHTM would better equip me with the ability to develop practical and effective public health interventions to test and scale sustainable and innovative solutions within resource constrained settings.
“By receiving an American Friends of LSHTM scholarship to assist with my living expenses whilst studying, I was able to focus on mastering the skills needed to be a public health professional without additional financial burden concerns. This was an incredible blessing that led to a year focused on both personal and professional development.”
Coming from a product design background and without any “formal” training in public health, I did at times feel as though I was not fully qualified to share a classroom with my peers. Sitting in modules with medics, medical students, health researchers and PhD candidates was incredibly daunting and I initially felt as if my experiences weren’t of the same calibre as theirs. However, the wider LSHTM community immediately silenced this internal fear.
My MSc thesis was a study which focused on 2 new toilet concepts and I am incredibly proud of the work that I was able to do with an amazing team, based at both LSHTM and in Zambia. After a roller coaster ride of Zambian-based and ethics submission approvals, I arrived in Lusaka in July 2017 to coordinate my data collection efforts with LSHTM PhD candidate Ben Tidwell. Due to some unpredictable manufacturing and logistics constraints, the nature of my project pivoted greatly. However, with the support of the TRANSFORM project team, from the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, in addition to the support provided by Ben and Dr. Robert Aunger (my advisor), I was able to conduct 30 semi-structured interviews that utilised both Behavior Centered Design and Willingness to Pay Methods to produce a small formative mixed methods market research study. Despite the logistical challenges that our team faced, I was so proud to have produced a final piece that not only met my MSc Health promotion requirements, but also included actionable recommendations for how to move forward with this toilet concept in Lusaka.
During my time as an MSc student at LSHTM, I had the incredible opportunity of attending some of the Environmental Health Group’s meetings, volunteer with the SHARE Research consortium, enroll in the prestigious Tropical and Environmental Health module, and conduct my dissertation research under the auspices of Dr. Robert Aunger. Immersing myself in these incredible LSHTM opportunities, gaining LSHTM mentors and peers, all while taking complimentary public health coursework in Statistics, Epidemiology, and health promotion truly positioned me not only advance the work of my social start up Wish for WASH, but to also earn incredible an job at the Toilet Board Coalition.
A gift towards scholarships makes a significant impact that begins with the student recipient and can go on to reach communities all over the world. If you would like to find out more about supporting LSHTM with a gift towards scholarships, please get in touch.
If you would like to find out more about how to give to the the LSHTM, including tax effective giving for the donors in the USA and Canada, visit our Ways of Giving page.