2015-2016 Luce Scholar

Rak Dek (Life Skills Development Foundation) Chiang Mai, THAILAND

Charlotte Lee will be hosted at the Headquarters of Rak Dek (Life Skills Development Foundation) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She will also work out of Rak Dek’s field offices in Pai and Pang Mapha in Mae Hong Son Province. Rak Dek (“to protect children” in Thai) was founded in 1998 as part of Save the Children USA’s transition strategy when closing down its operational presence in Thailand. With project activities focusing on early child development, quality education, life skills curricula, HIV/AIDS stigma reduction and children’s participation, Rak Dek works primarily for children of many ethnicities in remote areas of upper northern Thailand, who are vulnerable, disadvantaged, and under-served.

In May 2015, Charlotte Lee will graduate with highest distinction from Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy and minors in Global Health and Chemistry. She plans to pursue a Masters in Public Health and an M.D., with residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She aspires to work on maternal and child health issues at the World Health Organization. Charlotte initially developed a passion for global health as an undergraduate, working at the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER) in rural Kenya, where approximately one in three were living with HIV/AIDS. At WISER, she trained local research assistants for a study on the relationship between nutrition and cognitive ability and taught sex education in schools. She was a research associate and fieldworker for an epidemiological study in the Peruvian Amazon, where she also taught dental hygiene classes in Spanish to mothers and children in remote river communities. She was the Hepatitis B Policy Intern in New York City at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, which mainly serves low-income Asian immigrants and Asian Americans. While there, she coordinated and marketed the first-ever NYC Hepatitis B Awareness Week with NYC City Council and co-authored a successful CDC grant proposal to expand hepatitis B screening and to train general practitioners in the testing and treatment of hepatitis B. She loves to travel and studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey, where she learned about Middle Eastern history, culture, religion, and politics. She enjoys volunteering with Duke Hospice, developing relationships with patients at the end of their lives and supporting their families. She is also a volunteer ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor for Latino community members through Duke GANO (Gente Aprendiendo para Nuevas Oportunidades). She is presently working as a research assistant at the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, where she contributes to international global health research by working to improve monitoring and evaluation strategies related to the wellbeing of orphans. She completed her senior honors thesis on the relationship between distrust of the government and vaccine refusal by performing quantitative statistical analyses on survey data from over 1,200 American parents. She is collaborating with researchers from Johns Hopkins and Emory to submit her paper for publication in the internationally acclaimed journal, Vaccine.