Lisa Jahn: Medical Anthropology

Lisa Figueroa Jahn

Medical Anthropology

B.A., June 2010, cum Laude

Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship

Mellon May Undergraduate Fellowship

Dean’s List

Lisa Jahn became intrigued with anthropology at the age of 10 when she first started reading “Kids National Geographic” and realized how large and different the world felt in comparison to her seemingly inescapable surroundings.  Although she found her educational opportunities limited, she did seek out information at her local library which nurtured her curiosity.  After high school, she spend some time at Pace University and working in the business world, never really feelling satisfied until she enrolled in City College as an anthropology major.  But it was not until she took a course called “Latinas’ Reproductive Rights” that she realized the world of anthropology, medicine, and public health was her true calling.

Readings in that course provided Jahn with a new global context for understanding sterility abuse in Puerto Rico.  In addition to the waning access to quality healthcare she was witnessing in the U.S., she started to examine critical factors in healthcare and decided to concentrate her efforts on continuing to study Puerto Rico, where 2.3 million inhabitants are uninsured and several forms of healing are practiced, from allopathic (biomedicine) and traditional healing methods such as Brujeria and Santeria. Puerto Rico’s unique political and economic relationship to the U.S. intrigued her as well.

In spring 2008, Jahn was awarded the Mellon Mays Fellowship which allowed her to engage in a research-training program at the University of Chicago; that program furthered her ethnographic research skills.  Upon returning from Chicago, she continued to work with her faculty mentor, Prof. Patricia Antoniello, Health and Nutrition, Brooklyn College (who is also Director of the Shirley Chisholm Center for Research on Women) on the study of women and health care in rural societies.  She later participated in the Global Health Study Abroad Program in Jamkhed, a rural village in Maharashtra, India where she experienced international health policies as they affect the lives of marginalized populations.  The Jamkhed model, which follows the concepts of primary healthcare established at the Alma Ata conference, provided Jahn with a theoretical framework to conduct future studies in rural Puerto Rico.

Most recently, The Society for Applied Anthropology accepted a paper Jahn submitted which she will present at the 70th annual conference in Mexico on Friday March 24th. The paper examines the ethnographic research she conducted a rural clinic in India.

Of Jahn, Prof. Antoniello has the highest praise, saying she is an outstanding student with a rare blend of intelligence, creativity, and purpose, one of the most qualified to pursue a career in medical anthropology.  Working with Prof. Antoniello, Jahn carved out an ambitious academic plan, taking courses at Brooklyn, Queens and Hunter Colleges, earning straight A/A+ grades in each.

Jahn is now in the process of applying to Ph.D. programs, and she has been accepted to the New York City Urban Fellows program for 2010-11.