Sydney McGuire – Peace Corps in Lesotho

Sydney McGuire is a first-year student at MSIH. After obtaining her undergraduate degree in Physiology and Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego, she spent time in the Peace Corps in Lesotho. From there, she earned a Masters in Public Health from George Washington University, before enrolling this year in the MSIH class of 2025. Coming from a military family, she “moved around a bit, but we were mostly stationed in Fayetteville, NC.

These are her thoughts:

An important part of global health is constant learning. That works well in tandem with medicine where being a ‘lifelong learner’ is a core tenant. In the field of public health, I have found that I have learned the most through candid conversations with people from different communities. It begins with listening and learning. That concept also translates directly to the context of medicine. Helping patients begins with the ability to listen and learn from them.

After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I worked at a clinic in Lesotho for a year and a half in the Peace Corps. I partnered with local peer educators to implement HIV/AIDs education and testing campaigns. Sentebale Peer Educator, Nkametso Molibeli, was someone from the Ha Molapo community who I spent most days with. I was inspired by how well she was able to connect with youth and clinicians alike. I found her to be the perfect example of a community bridge that links often-overlooked populations to health care access. My supervisor, Phakiso Matheolane, was one of the nurses who kept the Ha Molapo health care services reliable and ever improving. Ntate Matheolane supervised the clinic, helped with youth clubs, and consulted patients all week long — all while pursuing his Master of Public Health. Watching him conduct community research and implement interventions to increase patient satisfaction was motivational to say the least.

Lesotho community peer educators prepare for a day of health education and HIV testing outreach. 

Ntate Matheloane inspired me to pursue my MPH after I left Lesotho. My interests that had burgeoned during my time in the Peace Corps developed into a passion for linking clinical care to social services in the community– something I saw Nkametso do daily. These interests lead me to study medicine at MSIH. Here, I am constantly learning from my peers around me, as well as from the Be’er Sheva community that surrounds us. This is the perfect opportunity to grow and evolve in the context of global health. As I continue to learn more, it is helpful to have peers by my side to explore the tough topics that we may navigate in our future careers.

Global health is not straightforward. It requires constant evolving and critical introspection. We sat down in our introduction to the global health module and tackled our first subject: ‘colonial medicine’. The interplay of historical context, socio political environment, and economic motivators in relation to health is something I have become very aware of as I have learned more about global health. The fact that the MSIH curriculum tackles this head on confirmed my reasoning for choosing the program. The daily conversations I have with my peers confirms it even more. Everyday I learn new perspectives from those around me. Being here with my classmates pumps me up to explore, listen, and be a part of social change advocacy.