Unite For Sight's Alumni Profile Series: Chelsey Barrios

Chelsey Barrios, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland, participated as a Global Health Leadership Intern with Unite For Sight the summer following her sophomore year (Summer 2010) at Williams College. Chelsey had been searching for a summer internship related to global health, and she said that as soon as she read about Unite For Sight, she knew that the position would be a perfect fit. She recalls that throughout the internship, she was “so excited by UFS’s commitment to global health delivery and innovation that [she] decided to start a Chapter at Williams”.  During the fall after her summer internship, Cheslsey founded and served as president of the Williams Chapter for two years.

We recently connected with Chelsey to hear about her current endeavors and about how her internship with Unite For Sight influenced her career interests.

What were your most important lessons learned while participating as an intern with Unite For Sight?

While immersed in my work with Unite For Sight, I truly learned the meaning of the phrase “good intentions are not enough.” Through my research for the Global Health University courses and my invigorating conversations with Jennifer and the other interns and fellows, I learned how important it is to implement effective change at the local level, by partnering with local clinics instead of using a “medical mission” model to attempt rapid changes that are unsustainable and ultimately harmful. Additionally, I learned the importance of continuing to develop, expand, and enrich global health delivery and education. UFS is constantly adding new Global Health University courses, creating new opportunities for research projects abroad, and thinking creatively about how to improve efficiency and maximize positive outcomes.

What is your most memorable experience with Unite For Sight?

Serving as a moderator at the Global Health & Innovation Conference was very memorable. Being a part of such a lively and intellectual event was inspirational, and I was so honored to be able to network with such motivated and innovative individuals! Additionally, I found the overall environment and atmosphere of the UFS office to be very memorable. I enjoyed coming into work everyday and learning about the history, challenges, and realities of global health in an office full of passionate and smart people.

What is your current position, and how do you apply your Unite For Sight experience to your current endeavors?

Currently, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland. The lessons I learned with Unite For Sight apply to my research and clinical work in many ways. For example, I am interested in working with at-risk populations, who are often of low socioeconomic status and are racially and ethnically diverse. In these populations, there is frequently a stigma surrounding mental health disorders and services. Unite For Sight taught me the importance of carefully considering cultural barriers to care, including family dynamics and cultural beliefs, and taking those into account when providing clinical services or conducting research. This concept is equally as important for clinical psychologists as it is for eye care providers, as educating oneself about cultural customs and beliefs helps connect with the patient and ultimately deliver more effective care.