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Sunday, May 22, 2022


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Global Health students hold banquet for Partners in Health

Students from the Global Health Sophomore Scholars in Residence program hosted a banquet to celebrate and raise money for Partners in Health, an organization that strives to improve the healthcare conditions of poor communities around the world.

As part of their capstone project for the SSIR, sophomores Alejandra Garcia-Narvaez, Leslie Kinnas and Whitney Schwalm organized the banquet, which took place on the evening of April 2, in the Alice Haynes Room in Tyler Haynes Commons. They had learned about Dr. Paul Farmer, the founder of Partners in Health, in the SSIR class during fall semester, and were inspired to help the cause, Kinnas said.

Partners in Health began working in Haiti but has since expanded to giving aid in 12 countries, Schwalm said. The goal of the banquet was to raise $2,000 for Partners in Health's Malawi Hospital in southeastern Africa, Kinnas said. The hospital focuses on children's health, HIV/AIDS and women's health, and also trains community health workers, Kinnas said.

"They're not a crutch," Schwalm said. "They work alongside existing health infrastructure and train community health workers. They help lift people out of poverty, which is a lot of the time the root cause of their health issues."

Tickets to the catered event cost $5 for students and $10 for general admission. Garcia-Narvaez, Kinnas and Schwalm gave a presentation to about 80 attendees on Partners in Health's history and founding, its work with the Malawi Hospital and why they chose to work with the organization.

The members of the SSIR then held a raffle for 10 donated prizes, including a dozen free cupcakes from Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe and a free dinner from Noodles and Co. Off the Cuff, one of the university's coed a cappella groups, performed to wrap up the banquet.

With the banquet and donations, the event raised $1,360, Kinnas said. "We're really happy with how it turned out," Schwalm said. "We're keeping our donation link open a little longer, but we're not dissatisfied at all. We're really thrilled with the amount of support we got."

Political science professor Rick Mayes, the faculty adviser for the Global Health SSIR, was impressed with the outcome of the banquet, he said. The capstone project was a great way for students to connect what they learned in class to the community and put a more traditional, classroom-style of learning into action, Mayes said.

"Ideally these classes would give students the wisdom and the connections and the materials to do stuff that they really want to do," Mayes said.

Contact reporter Mia Webber at

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