Amazing Students

Lisa Foster

Lisa Foster, who is earning dual master’s degrees in social work and public health, says her graduate education is a perfect fit for her planned career in the areas of community development, refugee resettlement and global health, particularly HIV/AIDS.


Mocksville, N.C.

High School:

Davie County High School

Degree objective:

— Master of Social Work with a concentration in community empowerment and program development
— Master of Public Health with a concentration in health promotion and behavior

Other degrees:

B.A. in psychology, North Carolina State University

Expected graduation:

December 2016

University highlights, achievements and awards:

I first came to UGA in the Master of Social Work program, but added the Master of Public Health after realizing the dual degree was a perfect fit for my career interests. I serve as the student representative for the dual degree where I share student feedback about program structure and curriculum with faculty.

My greatest achievement is completing my research and internship in Ashaiman, Ghana, this past summer. I interned at The JonCaring Foundation where I provided HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, prevention education in the community, and advocacy training for Civil Society Organizations. For my research, I completed a photovoice assessment focused on community health and empowerment.

Photovoice is a type of community needs assessment that helps identify strengths and needs of the community through photography (the “eyes” of the community). For my project, participants were given photo assignments to take pictures of things or places in their community that were important, impacted their health, and made them feel supported or empowered. We then discussed each photo as a group, identified recurring themes, and talked about ways to address the issues mentioned. Group participants found major sanitation issues in their community as well as identified places in their community that provide support and entertainment. We created a report of findings for the director of the JonCaring Foundation to share with various government agencies and Civil Society Organizations. I am in the process of writing a (hopefully) publishable paper about the project to contribute to the literature about photovoice implementation and provide lessons learned.

I am currently completing the remainder of my MSW internship at AIDS Athens. My main responsibilities are HIV testing and counseling, providing prevention education in the community, and planning a Body Mapping Workshop for people living with HIV.

Current Employment:

MSW intern at AIDS Athens

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first in my family to attend UGA.

I chose to attend UGA because...

UGA gave me the opportunity to complete one of my internships in Ghana. Many other universities I was applying to had study abroad options, but not internship abroad partnerships.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

Honestly, most of my time spent on campus is either in class or in meetings at the School of Social Work or the College of Public Health. Though I do enjoy walking through North Campus when I get the chance.

When I have free time, I like...

To nap, play with my dog and practice yoga.

The craziest thing I've done is...

During my study abroad in undergrad, my friends and I took a last minute weekend trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, and decided we would figure out the details once we got there. Turns out all the hostels were booked, the hotels were out of our price range, and most things closed early, so we wandered the streets all night. Needless to say, our planning greatly improved after that.

My favorite place to study is...

… Sips Espresso Cafe on Prince.

My favorite professor is...

I have had many great professors in the social work and public health departments so I narrowed it down to two.

Trina Salm Ward is the MSW/MPH dual degree coordinator and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be on track to graduate this December without her. If it weren’t for her encouragement and support, I might not have gone through with my crazy idea to do my internship and research in Ghana.

June Hopps sparked my interest in public policy and continuously encourages me as a student. If I become half the social worker she is, I will consider myself blessed.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

One of my dearest friends passed away a few years ago, so if I could share an afternoon with anyone it would be her. We would chat about life, probably with a fancy coffee drink in hand, and she would give me one of her famous pep talks.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

… start an NGO in Uganda focused on serving youth infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. I would want to have a comprehensive facility that provided quality medical care, support services, housing and education.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to...

… buy a private jet and hire the staff needed to operate it. That way I could travel whenever and wherever, and bring my dog along with me (and friends, of course).

After graduation, I plan to...

Celebrate with family and friends, take a guilt-free nap, and enter the fields of social work and public health. I am interested in working in the areas of community development, refugee resettlement and global health, particularly HIV/AIDS. After working in the field for a while, I hope to do policy work to address issues of social injustice at a systemic level.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

I do not think I will remember just one experience from my time at UGA. Rather, I will remember my first time in Sanford Stadium, all of the late nights spent at the MLC/Jittery Joe’s, going to concerts at the Georgia Theatre, and most importantly, meeting some of my best friends.

Published Sunday,