Alumnus Blake Smith reflects on Peace Corps experience in Swaziland

photo of Blake Smith in Swaziland


Blake Smith is a graduate from the University of Iowa College of Public Health (16MPH) and is currently serving with the Peace Corps in Swaziland.

During his time in Swaziland, Blake has gotten involved in many different projects as a Peace Corps volunteer. From HIV prevention and support programs at a rural clinic, to assisting with the creation of the local school’s first library, Blake has had many opportunities to gain hands-on experience working with community members on various projects.

Through his work at the clinic, Blake has also been working to educate high school girls on how to make affordable and reusable sanitary pads to prevent them from missing school as a result of getting their periods. Outside of the clinic Blake has been involved in developing income generating projects and teaching financial literacy and general business skills to caregivers of orphans and vulnerable children.

While Blake says one of the greatest challenges he faces during his service thus far is the social isolation that can come with being a Peace Corps volunteer, he also mentions that once deep and close relationships are formed with local people, you begin to feel like you really are an important part of their lives and community; “it’s an amazing feeling.” Blake shares this type of relationship with members of his host family, which has transformed his experience in Swaziland and influenced how he will look back on these two years with the Peace Corps.

Written by Samantha Kloft, a campus ambassador for the Peace Corps at the University of Iowa and a second-year College of Public Health graduate student in community and behavioral health. Blake’s profile is one of the monthly Peace Corps Spotlights that shed light on the experiences of UI alumni as they serve in locations all over the world. 

MHIRT offers research opportunities in Romania, Armenia

The Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training (MHIRT) program is seeking underrepresented (minority, low income, rural) students enrolled in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences for summer research training internships in Romania or Armenia during the summer of 2018.

Eligible applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents; have a minimum GPA of 3.0; be a Junior, Senior, Graduate student or medical, dental, pharmacy or other professional program student; have completed two years of health sciences courses; and be from an underrepresented student group (minority, low income or rural).

Most expenses are paid and include round trip airfare, visa fees, international health insurance, monthly stipend, housing and tuition and fees for academic credit of internship.

Information sessions will be held:

Friday, October 27           10:00 am – 11:30 am     N160 CPHB

Thursday, November 9   11:30 am – 1:00 pm     N160 CPHB

Application and more information available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Marek Mikulski at 384-4296 or for further information or assistance.

MPH student Katie Grabowski helps prevent disease in Nicaragua

Students at the UI College of Public Health have many wonderful opportunities to learn and explore outside of the classroom, both in Iowa and around the world. Last summer, MPH student Katie Grabowski traveled to rural Nicaragua to help local health workers prevent preventable diseases among the citizens. Watch her story here.