Did you know the University of Utah offers a summer high school program in Ghana?
by Jens Nilson
The Center for Business, Health, and Prosperity host high school students for four weeks in Ghana and at the University of Oxford through the Ensign Global Leaders program. The program focuses on teaching students about the intersection of business and health, through an integrative, international experience that combines community engagement with the unique resources of the U, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for students. We asked a previous program participant, Ivan Delgado, a sophomore in health and kinesiology at the U, about his experience and how the program shaped his academic goals.
Delgado’s interest in health is inspired by his parents’ medical and public health work in developing countries. During family trips to Colombia, he gained first-hand experience with the disparities and obstacles that exist in health care, especially in rural areas. He wanted to expand his knowledge of other cultures, so he jumped at the opportunity for meaningful work and engagement in Ghana. “Not everyone in the U.S. sees what is going on in the public health sphere around the world. It is important for people to be exposed to that,” said Delgado.
“I learned a lot about health while I was in Ghana,” said Delgado. “Seeing health through a different perspective changed the way I look at problems here. Even with all the technology we have here in the U.S., we still struggle with problems and look for solutions in the wrong places. In a place like Ghana where you do not have those resources, it forces you to be creative with how you solve problems.”
The U.S. has advanced health technology but struggles to provide comprehensive prevention. While Ghana has a severe lack of specialized physicians, it is better at infectious disease management and containment than the U.S. Overall, Delgado’s experience opened his eyes to the many different ways to approach problems.
Delgado reflects that his most meaningful and memorable moments during the program were during the community engagement projects. He appreciated the approach of working with communities instead of just doing service for them. He conducted needs assessments in rural villages on health, clean water, sanitation, and community leadership topics. His team worked with faculty to analyze and present their findings to community leaders, so they could address these topics in their communities. Delgado appreciated this hands-on approach and knowledge sharing, and he now understands that communities create change from within.
It is not all work while in Ghana; the program also takes time for incredible excursions to historical sites and lets students spend time in nature. After all, what trip to Ghana would be complete without a safari? While speaking with Delgado, he reflected on his safari experience that had him about 100 feet away from a bull elephant, with a park ranger, of course. Safety first, always.
Delgado said, “The elephant came out from some vegetation. It looked at our group and then turned toward the pond close by. It felt like time stopped. Then this moment of wonder came over me. Wow! How many people get to experience this?”
Delgado highly recommends the program to all high school students, “It does not matter what you plan to do afterward, whether you go in health sciences or not. This opportunity in Ghana gave me a chance to see the world through a completely different perspective; a perspective that not many Americans get to see. Seeing how other people see the world is invaluable.”
Delgado fell in love with this West African country and has stayed close friends with other students he met from Ghana and the U.S., including some of the amazing leaders from Ensign Global College. He will return this summer through the Honors College Integrated Minor in Health to deepen his understanding of this diverse country. You can learn more about Delgado’s experiences through his YouTube channel.
The Ensign Global Leaders High School program is open to all high school students. Know of a high school-age student who might be interested? Visit the program website to view a recorded information session, complete an application and learn more about pricing.