Summer study in Haiti and Mexico

Political science major Frank de Waegh and biology major Matthew Sechler are the first recipients of the Latin American and Latino Studies program’s Chauvenet Award.

The award provides up to $3,500 for independent undergraduate summer abroad research projects.

De Waegh will travel to Haiti to conduct research on the number and quality of non-government organizations (NGOs) in Port-au-Prince. He will interview NGO leaders, team members and Haitian aid recipients to assess the impact of these organizations on the city’s development.

“Port-au-Prince has experienced significant upsurges in NGO presence since the devastating earthquake in January 2010,” de Waegh said. “I’m interested in conducting a critical analysis of aid groups and assessing outcomes stemming from these elevated levels.”

His research will also consider the consequences when communities such as Port-au-Prince are faced with the reality of living without external aid.

Sechler will study the history of public health in Mexico, with an emphasis on the discrepancies between rural and urban care.

“This nine-week study abroad project merges my future career aspiration in medicine with my interest in Latin America,” Sechler said. “I want to investigate what discrepancies arose in Mexican public health due to the varied pace of development there.”

In addition to his history research, Sechler will gain clinical experience at a womens’ hospital in Puebla. He is also receiving financial support for his research from a Richter Scholarship.

“While conducting their summer research, Frank and Matthew will be living as members of the communities where they are working. They will make strong connections that will help them as they continue their education in Latin American studies,” said Peter Siavelis, a political science professor and director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program.

The Chauvenet award was established by Dr. Allen Chauvenet and Dr. Julia Cruz in support of Latin American and Latino Studies at Wake Forest. Their daughter’s summer research abroad in Brazil inspired their gift. Christina Chauvenet graduated from the University in 2008.

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