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Stand Out Student: Kelsey Williams

Publication date

September 18, 2018 6:00 PM


Tess Martin

Kelsey Williams is a senior in the Honors Program studying Public Health.


Kelsey Williams is a senior in the Honors Program studying Public Health, and over the course of her time at Tulane, Kelsey has taken full advantage of opportunities that have enhanced her academic career. She has presented findings at the American Public Health Association, collected data in Kenya, and is now working on her Honors Thesis, as a culminating project of her work in the classroom and abroad.


Before coming to Tulane, Kelsey spent a gap year in Tanzania, which helped her secure a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to learn Swahili after her first year. Her language skills then provided her with the opportunity to work with Dr. Patricia Kissinger, Professor of Epidemiology. One of Dr. Kissinger’s research projects focuses on the monitoring and evaluation of a sexual health education and contraceptive access program at Ngong Road Children Association (NRCA), which works to reduce teen pregnancy rates in Nairobi, Kenya. After working on this project remotely for several months, Kelsey received the Jean Danielson Memorial Scholarship for field work through the Honors Program as well as a Newcomb Scholars grant, allowing her to continue her work on the project in Nairobi this past summer.


While in Nairobi, Kelsey finalized survey data collection, learned about NRCA’s organizational capacity, spoke with students in the program, and designed new activities for a peer education program. This work has paved the way for Kelsey’s Honors Thesis, in which she will analyze and discuss her research findings on the program with a socio-cultural analysis. This year, Kelsey is also working with the Honors Program to apply for several internationally competitive scholarships in hopes of furthering her long-term goals of working in academia within the field of public health.


In addition, as a Newcomb Scholar, Kelsey has been connected to Newcomb College Institute (NCI) programming since her first year. She began her first research experience by applying for and receiving an NCI Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health internship working with Dr. Alyssa Lederer, Assistant Professor of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. For this project, Kelsey collected and analyzed data on students’ opinions about a short, web-based sexually transmitted infection (STI) education module that could help inform the future of online STI education. She helped present these findings at the American Public Health Association in November of last year, and the project team hopes to publish a paper by the end of the year.


Kelsey has a recommendation for younger students. She says the best thing you can do is create a network of faculty members who are invested in you, who give honest and critical feedback, and who believe in you. Kelsey recommends doing this by seeking out professors whose work you find interesting and going to their office hours to learn from them and get involved with their research. Kelsey’s curiosity and diligence, combined with the support of her professors, have enabled her to enjoy so many fulfilling experiences, and these experiences are sure to help her achieve her goals in her senior year and beyond.