Influencing Change: Blessed Sheriff '19 Reflects on the Edward Guiliano ’72 Global Fellowship

Sheriff traveled to Ghana in 2018 to undertake research into interventions of developmental disabilities.
by Susie Pentelow, Communications Coordinator
April 8, 2019
Blessed Sheriff with colleagues at the Maternal Newborn Stakeholders Conference
Blessed Sheriff stands outside of the babies ward of Ridge Regional Hospital
A presenter speaks next to a large screen at the Maternal Newborn Stakeholder's Conference. The screen reads "Gaps in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of children living with developmental disabilities in Ghana"
Blessed Sheriff and colleagues stand in front of a wall mural in Accra, Ghana

Blessed Sheriff '19 traveled to Ghana in 2018 to undertake a comprehensive review of interventions of developmental disabilities from 1993 to 2014. As an Edward Guiliano ’72 Global Fellow, she planned and implemented original research on identifying alternative, complementary, and integrative treatment methods for cerebral palsy in Ghana, which she presented to the World Bank and UNICEF. Her project has subsequently been reviewed and approved by the Ghana Health Services Institutional Review Board and will be conducted this upcoming winter.

What was a highlight of your experience in Ghana?

One of the most meaningful experiences I had this summer was the opportunity to present my work to the World Bank and UNICEF during a private conference. Putting together this presentation taught me a lot about how collaboration in global health works, and it starts with effective communication... Having the opportunity to stand in front of changemakers and be a part of crafting a solution was immeasurably valuable to both my professional development as a future changemaker and my morale.

How has this experience impacted your personal learning or growth?

This travel opportunity was revolutionary for me. As a descendant of Ghanaian ancestry who attends a predominantly white institution, I have rarely seen professionals who look like me doing the kind of work I want to do. The Guiliano Fellowship didn’t just give me an opportunity to travel, it gave me an opportunity to find mentorship, brilliance, excellence, and dedication among people I would never have had the opportunity to meet. These are people I knew existed but thought I would never be able to work with, and if I’m being honest a small part of me never imagined I could see myself in them. My strongest allies in my academic career are now people that look like me and I can’t describe how essentially motivating, how powerfully moving, and how revolutionary that is in the current world climate we live in today.

Moving forward, how will your work be influenced by what you learned during your Guiliano Fellowship?

During my Guiliano Fellowship, I was rigorously trained in research methods which I have put to practical use in crafting my own original research project. I will continue to engage with the topic of developmental disabilities, specifically cerebral palsy, in the near future by returning to Ghana this year to conduct my project. I am hoping that this experience will open more opportunities for me to explore my interests in global health research and advocacy.

To find out more about the Edward Guiliano ’72 Global Fellowship, visit the program page on our website.