April 14, 2017

Gurleen Kaur, Global Public Health major and alumna of the College Park Scholars Global Health Program, will spend this summer in Chandigarh, India on a Critical Language Scholarship—a two-month immersive summer language study program funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Seeking to combine her interest in global health and development, Kaur crafted her own major through the Individual Studies Program. She is majoring in Global Public Health and Development, a concentration not offered by the university, under the guidance of Dr. Elisabeth Maring, Director of Global Health Initiatives and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH) and the Department of Family Science.

For a paper assigned in a class about families and global health, Kaur wrote about breastfeeding practices in conservative societies.

“I was struck by Gurleen’s ability to weave the research, personal connection and her intellectual capacity to think critically about health issues that exist globally,” Dr. Maring said.

Kaur’s research focus is Punjabi women’s health, and specifically how patriarchal attitudes within the culture affect the quality of women’s medical care. For her senior thesis, Kaur examined how growing up in a patriarchal society relates to women’s self-worth, as well as their relationship to men and their health. Female health inequalities are reflected in the country’s low female-to-male ratio and high rates of female infanticide, Kaur said.

Kaur, who is a native Punjabi speaker, looks forward to strengthening her reading and writing skills in the language. Although she grew up speaking the language in a Punjabi household, Kaur has not lived in Punjab long enough to absorb the culture.

During her time in Chandigarh, Kaur plans to involve herself in projects related to women’s health.

“I want to explore pre-natal and post-natal care in Punjab, how it is lacking and what can be done to improve it,” Kaur said.

After the Critical Language Scholarship program, Kaur plans to apply to medical school and work in the Kaur Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting cultural awareness and tolerance toward Sikh religion.