Globetrotter

Leigh Ann Miller puts her social work and public health experience to the test in developing countries

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Globetrotter

Leigh Ann Miller spent part of her summer in Zanzibar, working on HIV/AIDS intervention programs.

Photo by: Dot Paul

You could say that Leigh Ann Miller (MSW ’04) is seeing the world—one public health issue at a time.

Her latest stint has been in Tanzania, where she is conducting a research study on HIV/AIDS in targeted groups. Now a Ph.D. candidate in public health at Tulane University, Miller is working with the Centers for Disease Control and the Zanzibar AIDS Control Programme. The first step was a confidential survey of 1,400 Zanzibar men who have sex with men, female sex workers and injecting drug users.

“We’re trying to design some intervention to figure out how to target this high-risk population,” Miller says.

The work Miller is doing in Zanzibar builds on her previous experiences working with public health programs in Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia, she says, and allows her to use the skills she developed in graduate school at UGA and now at Tulane.

However, her service learning began long before graduate school. Miller served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching school in Sri Lanka from 1997 to 1998, leaving when civil unrest forced the school to close. From 1999-2001, she was a Peace Corps volunteer doing community development work in Thailand.

While at UGA, she traveled with the School of Social Work to Xalapa, Mexico, where she lived with a local family and took language classes. The goal of the trip was to help the future social workers better understand the culture of the new immigrant population in Georgia.

“I’m forever affected by what I learned as a Peace Corps volunteer—how to show up in a place and try to fit in; how to work towards not being a guest so much as becoming a contributing member of a community,” Miller says. “It’s a skill I’m still mastering and it’s a challenge that still engages me.”