The EWH team is wishing a fond farewell to Senior Projects Manager Megan Lavery. Megan served as a volunteer biomedical equipment technician on EWH’s Summer Institute in Rwanda in 2016 after being involved with the EWH Chapter at Virginia Commonwealth University while pursuing her degree in biomedical engineering and international studies. In 2018, she joined the team full time and has planned and led Institutes in Uganda, Rwanda, Cambodia, Nepal, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
Megan has been an integral part of our team and her enthusiasm for and dedication to our mission will be sorely missed. In this conversation with EWH Communications Manager Rachel Goforth, she reflects on her time with the organization and offers advice to engineering students interested in global health.
Megan, it’s been so great working with you the last year and half - you have such a great history with EWH, from SI participant to full-time staff member - how did you get involved with the organization all the way back in 2014? Did you have an interest in global health prior to your Summer Institute experience?
I actually got involved with EWH as a Chapter member at my school. I was already studying biomedical engineering and a friend had decided to start an EWH Chapter my freshman year. That was my first true exposure to global health and how biomedical engineering could fit into the field.
So EWH definitely influenced your career trajectory - What has been your favorite part of facilitating this experience for hundreds of engineering students, as someone who was in their shoes almost ten years ago?
I love being in the field with students and helping people grow their confidence in hands-on projects. I've always been pretty handy and technical, but not everyone has that opportunity, so being able to teach students hands-on troubleshooting and repair skills that will be useful in every part of life is awesome.
In my time with EWH, I’ve been lucky enough to learn so much about biomedical engineering and low-resource healthcare from you - What is one thing that you wish people knew working in low-resource countries?
I think one thing that our students learn very quickly during the institutes is the complexity of challenges in global health. While a single repair might be a simple fix, there are a plethora of reasons a device might have been broken or out of service for so long prior to our students getting their hands on it. The processes we use in high resource areas are often not the best way to approach challenges in low-resource healthcare.
What advice would you give to an engineering student who is thinking about pursuing a career in global health or joining a Summer Institute?
Go for it. The Summer Institute is a great way to get a crash course in engineering for global health. Don't let your learning stop there. Stay open minded and ready to have your views challenged - that means you're growing and becoming a more informed global citizen.
Finally, as a seasoned traveler - what is your top travel tip?
Humility. Be flexible, because always sticking with the plan means you'll only see what you expected to see. Stay humble because nobody wants to show new things to someone who already knows it all. And challenge yourself because you'll be proud of yourself later on. Ask for lots of help, be gracious, and enjoy the ride.
Thank you, Megan!