Summer Plans Series: Exploring Public Health in Chile

By Rei Ramos ’15
University Communications

This summer, Anjalene Whittier ’14 spent a month in Punta Arenas, Chile as a part of a public health traineeship. During her stay, she worked on two different projects involving caffeine consumption among Peruvian students and the prevalence of obesity among special-needs children in Chile.

Stationed at a rehabilitation center for children in the area, Whittier assisted in collecting patient information for the clinic. Since many of the patients had disabilities, with some confined to wheelchairs, she had to make use of alternative methods of data collection. Instead of using standard scales for weighing clients, measurements like neck circumference were used to obtain information on body fat percentage. Whittier also participated in clinical rotations with doctors, therapists, and educational staff, earning some very valuable first-hand medical experience.

Aside from the experiential benefits of her traineeship, the rising senior is also thankful for the travel opportunity. Having grown up in Rochester, the prospect of international travel was enticing for Whittier. “I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to travel, especially to South America, but I’ve never had the opportunity before. I was especially interested in going to a country where I could improve my Spanish skills,” said Whittier. Even with her busy schedule, she found time to travel to different parts of Chile, spending time in the capital city of Santiago among other sites and enjoying the country’s rich culture.

While much of her research was challenging, Whittier did not mind the extra effort. “I’m very interested in working to improve the lives of children with disabilities/mental illnesses, both domestically and abroad,” she explained. “I couldn’t imagine anything better to do this summer,” said Whittier. “It really ties all of my interests together.”


This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester spent their summer. Know of someone who did something cool over break? Email The Buzz ( and tell us all about it!