Class 14 (2015-2017)
Natsuko Sawaya, Japan
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Department of Maternal and Child Health
While working at an international preschool in Tokyo, Natsuko Sawaya was awarded the Ambassadorial Scholarship of the Rotary Foundation to study at Bologna University in Italy. While her major was in early childhood education, she also focused her studies around the development and problems of children growing up in institutions. During this time, she traveled to different countries in Africa to see an orphanage, an abandoned children’s center and several centers for infants. After graduating from Bologna University in 2009, she moved to Senegal to work at a children’s center where she arranged training courses for the local caregivers. In 2011, she began working at the Japanese Embassy in Mauritania as an administrative staff member. After three years, she was given an additional opportunity to work in Mauritania with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). She has been involved in projects related to border management and community stabilization, financed by the Japanese Government and the European Union. Through these opportunities, she was given the rare chance to see the evolution of Japanese funded projects, initially from the Embassy side, and now as a member of the project team in the same country.
Natsuko will be studying in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She will focus her studies on stabilizing the environment around maternal and child health, an area critical in developing communities and countries. Natsuko also plans to gain skills and experience in emergency preparedness, especially in responding to the needs of pregnant women, mothers, babies and young children during outbreaks of disease, refugee and migrant movements, and natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.