Rachel Rodriguez works to educate women in Malawi
There’s no road between Madison and Malawi, but Rachel Rodriguez might just find a way to build one. It would be both purposeful and metaphoric for the winding journey Rodriguez, an associate professor at Edgewood College School of Nursing, has been on since 2005 to help construct a women’s center in the African nation.
Malawi is among the world’s poorest countries, with most people living on less than a dollar a day. In general, Malawian women have less education and fewer resources than men, so providing job training and healthcare is key to helping them become self-sustaining.
All of Rodriguez’s work had been in the U.S. until a Malawian student presented her with the idea when she was teaching at the UW. Seven years later the land is purchased, the plans are drawn and all it will take is money to build it. Rodriguez was recently awarded a 2013 Fulbright Scholarship to serve as a visiting professor in Malawi, where she’ll mentor Ph.D. faculty in research, teach community health nursing and continue work on her Malawi Women’s Health program.
Rodriguez’s work imparts important lessons to her students: “I want them to get a sense that we’re part of this much bigger world,” says the veteran public health nurse. “I would like to see us look into the social determinations of health and global health, for all of us.”
Do you know a great local nurse who’s made a difference in our community or beyond? Nominate him or her for Madison’s Favorite Nurses at madisonmagazine.com/nurses.