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Published: Tuesday, 6/2/2009

Perrysburg woman gets Fulbright grant

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

When Dodie Rimmelin went off to Boston College four years ago, she had no idea what career path she would follow.

The Perrysburg native and 2005 graduate of St. Ursula Academy began taking premedicine courses but soon found herself drawn to international issues.

"Prior to going to Boston I hadn't really traveled outside the country," she said. "Once I got there, I developed this interest in international issues and, later, specifically in public health and international development."

Ms. Rimmelin, 22, graduated from Boston College last month with a degree in international studies, but her education is far from over.

She has landed a prestigious Fulbright grant that will enable her to spend a year in India looking at the effectiveness of government initiatives intended to improve access to health care for women and children in rural areas. She also will conduct research with professors at the Institute for Development Studies in Jaipur.

She's never been to India, although she spent her junior year studying abroad in France and in Senegal, West Africa.

"I decided after my freshman year that I would take advantage of every opportunity I could find to see the world," Ms. Rimmelin said. "This is the culmination of that, well, not really the culmination. This is just the next step to that."

Donald Hafner, vice provost for undergraduate affairs at Boston College, described Ms. Rimmelin as "very passionate" about social justice and international development issues but also "very objective and thoughtful" in her approach.

He served as her adviser on her senior thesis project, which examined how well the United States was meeting its promise to focus assistance in countries most in need. She found that while in some cases assistance was directed to countries based on the human development needs there, it also continued to flow to areas influenced by national security concerns.

"She raised a question we both hoped she'd find a different answer to," Mr. Hafner said.

Ms. Rimmelin said she's excited to travel in India, a country that has both a fast-growing economy and considerable poverty.

"India currently presents a strikingly unique case study in human development," she wrote in her application for the Fulbright grant. "Its economic expansion and growing population provide it with a supply of both the material resources and human potential needed to combat the challenges of human development, such as access to health care and education and availability of economic and employment opportunities."

She will leave in August for New Dehli, where she will spend three months studying Hindi thanks to a Critical Language Enhancement Grant she received separate from the Fulbright award. While English is an official language in India, Ms. Rimmelin said she will be in rural areas where many of the people will not speak English.

"My understanding is anyone who's educated can speak English," she said. "I'll be working in some rural areas so at least having conversational skills in Hindi will be helpful."

After her year in India, Ms. Rimmelin said she plans to go on to graduate school to pursue studies in international development or international public health.

Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.


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