Nursing graduate Jillian Pintye, ’07 has arguably done more to give back to the world than most others her age—something that Pintye attributes to her time at La Salle.
Pintye, a native of Tuckerton, N.J., graduated with her nursing degree and a desire to help others in need. This, and the aid of then-La Salle Honors Program Director John Grady, encouraged her to apply for a Fulbright Grant. “He supported me tooth and nail through the application process,” she said. Her hard work paid off when she learned she was selected to study public health in Denmark as a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright grant.
From Denmark, Pintye joined the Peace Corps in hopes of helping other countries improve their response to health crises, something she realized she wanted to do after participating in a public health travel/study course that took her to a Mayan village in Guatemala during her junior year. Performing health screenings on the underprivileged children deepened her interest in public health nursing.
“Experiencing the health disparities present in the marginalized community we served unexpectedly shook me to the core,” she said of the trip. “I was overwhelmed by the burden of disease that was attributed to preventable infections.”
Her commitment to the Peace Corps brought her to Botswana, where she focused on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. After spending two years in a small, remote village coordinating data collection from clinics and planning effective HIV/AIDS programming, Pintye went on to work in the city of Gabarone, working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on HIV/AIDS policy.
“HIV/AIDS is pervasive in the very fabric of society in Botswana, and it has immense cultural implications,” she said. “I truly believe that if we can put a halt to the HIV incidence, Botswana will flourish.”
During her time in Botswana, Pintye relied heavily on what she learned during her time at La Salle, particularly her statistics and research course with Zane Robinson Wolf, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN. “Using what I learned in Dr. Wolf’s class, I was able to guide my health management team through HIV/AIDS programming evaluations and to aid decision makers on how best to respond to the HIV epidemic.”
While serving in Botswana, Pintye met First Lady Michelle Obama while she was visiting the country with a number of young girls from the village, many of whom were AIDS orphans. “It was amazing to see how cross-cutting of a role model Obama is to young women; she can touch hearts and minds from cities in the U.S. to the bush of Botswana,” she said.
Now, after serving three years in the Peace Corps, Pintye is studying for her Master’s in Public Health at the University of Washington, specializing in epidemiology-global health.