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Spring 2012
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Senior Portraits

Caitlin Dreisbach

Text: Hannah Stamler ’12 | Photo: Kent Loeffler

Caitlin Dreisbach

When Caitlin Dreisbach transferred to Cornell her sophomore year, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to study. She was accepted into the communication major, and though she loved the program, she still felt something was missing.

It turns out that ‘something’ was science, which Caitlin discovered in part thanks to the “solid science courses” CALS students take regardless of their concentration.

She added a major in biology and society, and a minor in global health. The result? A completely unique program of study carried out on two continents.

Last spring, Caitlin participated in the Cornell-Nepal Study Program, run by Cornell Abroad. While there, she put her skills as a Cornell Outdoor Education instructor to the test, trekking the Himalayas and riding elephants.

After participating in classes at the program’s base in Katmandu, she designed and worked on an original research project, which became the basis of her senior honors thesis. Provided with a stipend and a Nepali translator, Caitlin travelled across the country to interview women about their medicinal use of locally brewed beer.

Following the traditions of the northern Mustang district, many women drink a glass of beer a day to promote lactation and increase milk yield. Young women often feel conflicted about whether to follow the advice of their mothers and grandmothers, or to listen to nurses and doctors trained in western medicine.

“Nepal, as with many countries, is going through a transition from folk medicine to westernized medicine,” Caitlin said.

Caitlin hopes to continue working on women’s health issues after graduation but will do so as a nurse midwife, a course of study that combines the various interests she discovered at Cornell: biology, global health, and communication. Next year, she begins training at Johns Hopkins University. “I think communication will help me interact with patients on a better level,” she said.

“I have been able to carve my own path with these experiences. Truly, I do not think I would be doing this had I gone anywhere other than Cornell,” Caitlin said.