Kilian Kelly dines with locals in the Dominican Republic.
Honors Student Interns and Conducts Research in the Dominican Republic
On his first trip to the Dominican Republic with the Honors College in December 2017, Kilian Kelly saw some of the most prevalent public health issues faced by the people in the communities he visited. “Of all the plights that I witnessed, the conditions that stood out to me the most were the widespread parasitic and fungal infections - especially in children,” says Kilian. “Due to the consumption of impure water, many people experienced consistent and repetitive infections of intestinal parasites and epidermal fungal infections on the face and cranium.”
Seeing children suffering from preventable afflictions inspired him to begin research on social and structural barriers preventing people from accessing safe and clean water sources. “I am interested in the overlap between social determinants of health, water access, and infection control,” he says.
Kilian is an Honors College junior and a native of Melbourne, Florida pursuing bachelor degrees at the University of South Florida (USF) in Biochemistry and Anthropology, as well as a minor in Public Health. He is a recipient of the Gilman International Scholarship, which provided funding assistance for a public health internship in the Dominican Republic during the summer of 2018.
“I participated in various activities with the Kerolle Initiative, a community health organization dedicated to improving health quality of the most vulnerable communities in the Dominican Republic, led by Dr. Reginald Kerolle,” he says. “This initiative included working in mobile medical clinics in rural communities along the north coast, working on various sustainable projects in the communities that the initiative serves, and aiding in community mapping of the Bella Vista community in Sosua,” he explains. “I also had the opportunity to work on my own personal research on clean water accessibility in rural communities on the north coast of the Dominican Republic.”
Kilian collaborated with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) throughout the Gilman Scholarship application process. "Working with the ONS team really helped me to write a well thought-out and cohesive statement that was personable and evoked emotion to convey why my work in the Dominican Republic mattered," he says. "A successful application for a national scholarship should be looked over by multiple people throughout the writing process to ensure consistency and clarity."
He is grateful for the support he received from ONS, as well as Honors College faculty and a former national scholarship recipient.
"I attribute my success to Lauren Roberts in the ONS office, Dr. Lindy Davidson in the Honors College, and former Gilman Scholarship recipient Rebecca Howell," says Kilian. "Lauren Roberts was my main support system through the application process. She read every draft of my personal statements and encouraged me as I made my way through the application."
After graduation from USF in spring 2019, Kilian plans to return to the Dominican Republic to conduct an epidemiological review of Dr. Kerolle’s patient charts to quantify prevalence of waterborne infectious diseases.
Kilian feels this award is pivotal to his success because it allows him to get a taste of the type of work he wants to do professionally. "I want to work in global health and infectious disease,” he says. “I want to identify how they intersect with environmental health and sustainability."
Kilian presented preliminary findings from his summer internship and field work with Dr. Reginald Kerolle at the 2018 American Anthropological Association annual meeting in San Jose, California – his third national conference presentation. He also plans to present his research at the 2019 Society for Applied Anthropology national conference in Portland, Oregon. Kilian plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health and a PhD in applied anthropology.
This story is featured in the 2019 edition of Legacies.