Not only has Justin Gradek completed research in Uganda, but he has further interned in Washington, DC at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, International Affairs Office and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is a joint MAIR/ECON student who will graduate with two degrees and a wealth of experience.
This year I applied for and won a research grant from the Maxwell African Scholars Union to further pursue my research interests on the economics of healthcare delivery in East Africa. I had been working on a project to analyze the distribution and allocation of budget resources to the healthcare sector in Uganda when I was unable to locate the data needed for such a project. This challenge led to designing a research trip to collect the data in-person from ministries which curate the national data sets I was looking for.
I arranged to work from Makerere University as a visiting researcher while I attended meetings at ministries around Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to collect the data. I wanted to collect budgetary and healthcare outcome data to better understand the mechanisms by which resources are distributed. The data would need to be anonymized and disaggregated by region, and where possible disaggregated by district.
Designing and following through with this plan required extensive personal interaction. I worked with Maxwell to set goals, form a research proposal, and gain initial contacts for the trip. I worked with the dean of the school of Economics at Makerere University to set up meetings with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development to gather the necessary data. All of these steps contributed to the ultimate outcomes of the trip.
In the end this was a rich experience which required the use of diverse skills including clear communication, active listening, problem solving, and navigation of a foreign system. Using these skills effectively resulted in the collection of clean and clear datasets which were very valuable for my research.
The experience was rich and interesting. Over the course of the project I made good contacts with people researching similar topics both in Uganda and in other countries. I explored some of the local cuisine and culture in Kampala between my official meetings. Most of all I left Uganda with more questions than when I arrived, suggesting that the whole experience was a profound learning opportunity to try something completely new and formative as part of my broader Maxwell education.
To find out more about the Maxwell African Scholars Union, visit the organization website, where you can also see additional photos of Justine Gradek and other scholars of Africa.