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CCU student conducting virtual international internship with epidemiologist in South Africa

October 26, 2020
Aurion Cox is doing a virtual international internship with epidemiologist in South Africa.

Aurion Cox, a public health major from Andrews, S.C., is the first Coastal Carolina University student to hold a virtual international internship during the 2020 Fall semester. The internship is being conducted in cooperation with Kaya Responsible Travel, which offers volunteer and internship placements with more than 150 sustainable community development and environmental initiatives in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

During Cox’s three-month internship, she is working closely with Takiyah White Ndwanya, Ph.D., an epidemiologist based in South Africa. The internship exposes Cox to a broad scope of the health issues and underlying challenges faced by vulnerable communities in South Africa with COVID-19 being at the forefront.

“This internship will 100 percent complete my college experience and push my major, public health, to new levels globally and nationally,” Cox said. “I anticipate that I will be more than ready for the public health career field and have the basics and knowledge for any other career when I graduate because of this remote abroad internship.”

Laura Smith, Kaya’s university relations manager, said: “South Africa is a diverse environment to gain firsthand experience of the challenges faced by vulnerable populations in health and, in particular, infectious diseases. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has disproportionately affected sub-Saharan Africa compared to other countries globally. The World Bank considers South Africa as an ‘upper-middle-income’ economy, but many of its citizens continue to live in abject poverty. South Africa hosts many non-governmental organizations working to eliminate health disparities and co-morbidities of HIV/AIDS and TB and now the emergence of COVID-19, making it an ideal place for a public health internship.”

According to Darla Domke-Damonte, CCU’s associate provost for global initiatives, in light of COVID-19 and the suspension of education abroad programs this year, virtual international internships have become a pathway for CCU students to experience high quality interaction, engagement, and experience in their disciplines in cooperation with organizations and institutions around the world.

The University recently announced that scholarships are available to encourage other CCU students to participate in virtual international internships during the 2021 Spring semester and Summer sessions, including $4,800 in scholarship funding provided by the Horry County Higher Education Commission and $4,000 provided through other sources. Scholarships of up to $800 per student are anticipated to be awarded.

For more information about internships at CCU, contact Robert Bulsza, director of internships and service learning, at 843-234-3450 or rbulsza@coastal.edu. For more information about global initiatives at CCU, contact Domke-Damonte at 843-349-2129 or globalengagement@coastal.edu.