Student Spotlight: Allison Salinger
Allison, a dual degree student in Anthropology and Health Sciences, is entering her senior year as an undergraduate and is simultaneously embarking on a new adventure as a first year graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Public Health. These seemingly disjoint interests come together to create what is, to Allison, the dream job. Allison aspires to work as an outreach and prevention coordinator for a non-governmental organization (NGO) that targets underserved populations. Allison is particularly interested in working with seasonal farm workers, prison populations and individuals experiencing homelessness.
Allison’s first exposure to this kind of boots-on-the-ground, high-impact work came in the form of an internship with the Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County. As an intern, Allison presented basic HIV/AIDS information and contraceptive materials to diverse audiences in various community settings, including detox centers and health fairs, contributing to the 20,000+ individuals served by the Comprehensive AIDS Program each year.
Hungry to learn the nuts and bolts of the NGO sector, Allison traveled to India this summer with College of Family, Youth and Community Sciences professor, Dr. Muthusami Kumaran. This non-traditional study abroad program took an exclusive group of students to nearly twenty NGOs in four major Indian cities. Allison was honored to meet CEOs, board members and founders of NGOs and bilateral agencies including USAID, the Center for Human Services, and HelpAge India.
Closer to home, Allison has indulged her service-minded aspirations through her work with the Center for Leadership and Service. Last year, Allison served as the Training Director of MentorUF, a student organization that pairs college students with at-risk elementary, middle, and high school students in Alachua County. Currently, as the Co-Director of the Servant Leader Institute, Allison designs curriculum for leadership training events and roundtables. In her spare time, she also enjoys volunteering with GRACE Marketplace, a new and unique facility for individuals experiencing homelessness. For these and other efforts, Allison has received the Presidential Service Award for two consecutive years and Impact Awards for distinguished mentorship in 2013 and for model leadership in 2014.
Allison has also been honored with research opportunities in both anthropological and public health contexts. In her first year at UF, Allison served as a research assistant to Dr. Meredith Marten of the UF Anthropology Department. Marten’s research examined the sustainability of HIV/AIDS programs in East Africa. As a member of the research team under Dr. Richard Rheingans, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, Allison investigated the relationship between not only climate variability and diarrheal disease, but also the socioeconomic and cultural factors that mitigate this relationship.
When Allison isn’t exploring the literature on diarrheal disease or adventuring into the exciting world of NGOs, she enjoys directing the short form team for Theatre Strike Force, the University of Florida’s premiere improv and sketch comedy troupe. Much more than a creative outlet, Theatre Strike Force has taught Allison valuable lessons in support, adaptability and teamwork.