U.Va. Student Dana Hecht Wins National Scholarship to Study Health Around the World

January 14, 2008
January 11, 2008 — Dana M. Hecht, a distinguished major in human biology at the University of Virginia, has received a $5,000 scholarship from the National Society of Collegiate Scholars for a study abroad project she had already planned for the spring semester.

Hecht, 20, a third-year student from Sterling, Va., will join 32 other students from a variety of schools in an international honors health program, which will take her to Switzerland, India, China and South Africa to study the policies and practices of public health initiatives.

"Health is something that is of value to everybody," she said. "If we understand the cross-cultural differences between people, then we can have less bias and a more holistic approach to health care."

On this four-month trip, Hecht will study health policy at the World Health Organization in Switzerland; spiritual approaches to health in India; ancient medical techniques, such as acupuncture and using herbs, in China; and how apartheid affected public health in South Africa, as well as the current HIV/AIDs situation there. It is important to understand how health issues are handled in other countries because there are so many people of different cultures currently living in the United States, said Hecht, who plans to seek a master's degree in public health.

"Dana Hecht combines a keen interest in political philosophy with an intense focus on nuts-and-bolts policy," said John D. Arras, Porterfield Professor of Biomedical Ethics at U.Va.’s Department of Philosophy . "This dual preparation will stand her in good stead as she tackles the intricacies of international health policy during her forthcoming studies in China, India and South Africa."

The Scholar Abroad Scholarship is presented to one outstanding NSCS member each semester to assist with study abroad work. NSCS gives $5,000 in the spring and fall semesters, and $2,500 in the summer.

"Dana has an excellent academic record, and we applaud her hard work," said NSCS executive director Steve Loflin. "NSCS recognizes that studying abroad contributes significantly to a college student's education. Going abroad helps to increase one's standing not only personally, but socially, educationally and professionally."

The National Society of Collegiate Scholars is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and is the nation's only interdisciplinary honors organization to invite first- and second-year college students. Membership is by invitation only, based on grade-point average and class standing. NSCS offers members exclusive access to scholarships, career resources, leadership and networking opportunities. NSCS has more than 550,000 lifetime members and 228 chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

For information, visit www.nscs.org/scholarships.