Students return from first-ever Health Journalism in Cuba study away trip

From May 30 to June 8, a group of students from Grady College participated in a new study away Maymester program in Havana, Cuba.

The program, titled “Health Journalism in Cuba,” gave both undergraduate and graduate student travelers an in-depth look at the island nation’s healthcare system and how local and international journalists find and convey health stories to the public.

Students Delaney Tarr and Keshondra Shipp learn how to dance the salsa.
Keshondra Shipp (L) and Delaney Tarr (R) learn Cuban Salsa during a class at El Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas (CIPS) in Havana, Cuba, on June 6, 2022. (Photo: Maureen Costello)

“This unique, interdisciplinary program was such a valuable experience for all involved,” said Sabriya Rice, Knight Chair of Health and Medical Journalism at the College. Rice coordinated the program with the help of Hilda Mata of the Office of Global Engagement and Maureen Costello, of the Lamar Dodd School of Art. 

While there, students had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with Cuban health and science journalists, and they were able to speak with doctors, nurses and sports medicine specialists about a public health system that differs from what exists in the United States.

“It was amazing to observe ‘aha’ moments as they noted the differences and stepped outside of their comfort zones for this truly eye-opening intercultural exchange,” Rice added.

Over the course of the 10-day trip, students also had the opportunity to explore in and around Havana. They toured a nature reserve, tried local honey, visited radio and television studios, and, of course, visited local hospitals and clinics, among other activities.

“It was a great atmosphere. It’s a gem. I don’t know how else to describe it,” Keshondra Shipp, a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student, said about visiting Las Terrazas, a small, rural community outside of Havana.

To document their trip, students were tasked with creating blog posts and photo stories. Regularly, they were able to converse with health care professionals and journalists, as well as mass communication students at the University of Havana, about their experiences.

“Having the opportunity to do this sort of cultural exchange while in school is so important,” said Alex Anteau, also a Health and Medical Journalism graduate student.

“Despite the fact that the planet is very large, a lot of the problems people face are very universal – especially when it comes to health communication,” Anteau added. “On the whole, we are really dealing with similar issues, and it is really interesting to see how people with different backgrounds approach those challenges.”

  • Students visit the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) in Havana, Cuba. They are seated in front of portraits of José Martí (left) and Juan Gualberto Gómez (right). (Photo/Sabriya Rice)

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Smera Dhal

What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means bouncing back.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

Through Grady study abroad, I spent this past summer at the Creative Circus in Atlanta. While the course itself was rather rigorous, I got to spend every day with the most incredible and inspiring creatives. I’m grateful to say many of them are now my buddies here at UGA.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people! I love getting to know someone new. The best feeling in the world is strengthening your connection with someone you love.

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Cookout on W. Broad Street has kept me going through my darkest hours.

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

My proudest moment has been being appointed a 2022 MAIP Fellow. This internship program focuses on promoting diversity within the advertising world, and I am so excited to have been placed with the Digitas agency for an Art direction internship this summer!

Dhal (far left) participated in the Creative Circus program in 2021.
What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

Grady introduced me to the professional side of graphic design. This semester, I have begun creating posters, show announcements, and even cover art for local musicians. Check out “On Your Roof” by Evelia on all platforms, artwork by me!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

When I was learning how to ride a bike, my dad used to tell me “sedha dekho, pedal karo” which in Hindi means “look straight, keep pedaling.” I apply it more metaphorically to my life now, and it keeps me focused.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Make cool stuff!

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I like to make candles!

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

There’s a bench right outside the Journalism building under the big magnolia tree. It doesn’t jut out, it’s obscured, but it’s got a wide view of Sanford Drive. It’s perfect for anything – eating, studying, people-watching.

 

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Kyra Posey

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor/mentor/family member?

In my capstone course in the fall of 2020, Professor Dodie Cantrell-Bickley told us to try our hand at multiple platforms in order to tell our stories — video, audio, data journalism, etc. She said that we should try these even if we had never before because, as she said, “the weakest muscles need to be exercised.” She repeated this a few times in the semester, and it’s something that really encouraged me to try new ways to tell stories. In my career after graduation, I think I’ll always remember that it’s okay to try new things, even if it’s scary!

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

I knew that I wanted to be in the field of journalism when I entered college, and I knew that Grady’s program had produced many success stories. I was inspired by my upperclassmen friends who said the professors at Grady were some of the best they had ever had, and I could tell I would have an incredible support system here. It turns out that they were right — my faculty mentors have come from the school, and I’ve been able to hone in on my journalistic skills under their advice and leadership.

What is your favorite app or social media channel?

My favorite app is definitely TikTok. So many incredible stories can be told on that platform, and it’s so addicting.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

My most memorable Grady experience was studying abroad at Trinity College in Oxford, England. Ivanka Pjesivac was our professor teaching international communications, and while we were there, we were able to visit London’s CNN Bureau and the Reuter’s Institute in Oxford. Learning about international communications and speaking with some of the best in professional communications was an incredible hands-on learning experience, and it really opened my eyes to the global news flow. Professor Pjesivac really prioritized telling us about global communications across multiple fields (advertising, entertainment, journalism and more), and I’m not sure if I ever would have chosen a course like that unless I had studied abroad. Plus, I made some of my closest friends there.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I only have one kidney that was removed when I was 4 years old, and because it was removed when I was so young, my other kidney grew twice the size of a normal adult’s kidney. It’s a super kidney!

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

In fall 2020, I placed third in the Associated Collegiate Press’ Multimedia category for my work on The Red & Black’s podcast, “The Front Page.” I covered a week of protests for racial justice happening in Athens last summer. I worked really hard on that podcast and that episode specifically, and I was so glad that this important story was recognized.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about storytelling, and I want to apply my skills to support compelling narratives. This can really be seen in how I’ve applied my skills to my work throughout the years — I moved from reporter to podcast producer to social media editor at The Red & Black, where I learned how my skills could support the organization I worked for. Now, as CNN Audio’s marketing intern, I’ve learned how to use marketing and my communication skills in order to support world class storytelling. Plus, you can always find me listening to a podcast or reading through the headlines. I love consuming stories and great journalism!

What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The Red & Black has had the biggest impact on my life during my undergraduate career. It is truly the best place to hone in on your journalistic skills. While Grady’s courses provide essential training, having the ability to work in a professional newsroom is invaluable. I was able to find out what I was truly interested in when I moved up from contributor to a member of the editorial board. I eventually pitched, produced and marketed The Red & Black’s podcast “The Front Page,” and talking about that experience led me to a role at CNN Audio. I now hope to pursue post-graduate opportunities in podcasting and radio. If it weren’t for The Red & Black, I’m not sure if I ever would have discovered this interest.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

North Campus is my favorite place on campus. When it gets warm, my favorite thing to do is get milk tea from Bubble Café downtown and study on the North Campus lawn. After I leave Athens, it’ll definitely be the thing I miss the most.

What has been the hardest part about adjusting to COVID-19 in your life as a student and future professional?

The hardest thing about COVID-19 has been everything being virtual. Last semester, I had major Zoom fatigue, and I found it hard at times to stay motivated. However, something that has been an upside to this virtual environment is that you can really connect with anyone in the world! I’ve been able to network with people in New York, and at CNN, I frequently network with people that I might have never met if the internship wasn’t virtual.