UC San Diego graduate, Meghan Yap, a Biological Anthropology and Global Health double major, spent two quarters completing her Global Health Field Experience Requirement before graduation at UC San Diego Medical School’s Center on Gender Equity and Health, a research organization committed to creating interventions to improve health conditions for women and children.  Meghan was offered this position by her GLBH 181: Essentials of Global Health professor, Dr. Anita Raj. Throughout her internship and under the guidance Dr. Raj, Meghan focused her research on policies regarding campus sexual assault.

Dr. Anita Raj and Dr. Anindita Dasgupta were so much more than academic advisors, professors, or even friends; I disclosed to them about my assault and they insisted that I would be okay. They made me feel supported, believed, and capable, all without coddling me.

Additionally, during her Field Experience, Meghan had the opportunity to speak at the United State of Women Summit.   Meghan shared her personal account of being sexually assaulted while attending university and the current work that she was doing to further educate college students about the prevalence and prevention of campus sexual assault. Meghan was presented with an award that recognized her service to the “It’s On Us White House Champion of Change” campaign from Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States.  Finally, Meghan spoke on behalf of sexual assault, sharing her knowledge and research, on a panel at the White House.

This project was inspired by my own awful experience following a sexual assault at UC San Diego.  I aimed to seek out resources and support. Then we analyzed policies and found them to be inconsistent with trauma-informed, research based recommendations from leading coalitions against sexual assault.

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Meghan and Joe Biden, Vice President of the United Sates.

While attending the United State of Women Summit, Meghan met many advocates from a number of organizations who then reached out to her regarding possible job prospects. Meghan currently works at one of those organizations,  California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), as a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist.

CALCASA is a non-profit organization that aims to support legislative efforts addressing sexual violence, collaborate with researchers (such as the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UCSD) to further study sexual violence from a public health lens, and promote prevention efforts. More specifically, Meghan works with state-level stakeholders, such as the California Department of Public Health, to provide training and support to about half of California’s rape crisis centers.

Not only did Meghan’s Global Health Program Field Experience provide her the opportunity to make connections and friendships, but she also developed her professional interests and learned more about Masters of Public Health programs that she intends to apply to in the near future followed by a Ph. D. program in Global Health, with an emphasis on Gender-based Violence.

Meghan’s advice to undergraduate students:

I really want to stress that asking for help is a key to success in college AND in professional development. UC San Diego students are brilliant, and so used to being self-sufficient that most of us never learn how to ask for help because we think that it reflects badly on us as students. There is a culture of shame surrounding utilizing campus resources or letting personal events impact our student lives. It needs to stop. As high-achieving students, we have to learn that sometimes the answer is to ask for help and lean into our weaknesses: only by acknowledging my traumatic experience could I move past it and make a difference.

The Global Health Program is proud to have Alumni like Meghan out in the world who are working to make a difference on important issues such as ending sexual violence.

Check out the compelling “It’s on Us” video created by Meghan and her fellow UC San Diego students, including the UCSD Students for Global Health with support from the Center on Gender Equity & Health (GEH) and CARE at SARC at UC San Diego for the It’s on Us Campaign!