By Jenna Rupp
From Chapel Hill to The Gambia, Africa
Ally Adams’ morning routine looks a little something like this: wake up, walk to the well to collect water for the day, take her malaria medicine, begin the morning chores, and practice the tribal language “Jola” with her host family.
An alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill and former Collaboratory intern, Adams is now a health volunteer for the Peace Corps. She is stationed in the Tumani Tenda village in The Gambia, Africa.
She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2022 with a Political Science major and minors in History and English and Comparative Literature. She interned with the Collaboratory from the fall of 2021 to the spring of 2022.
While with the Collaboratory, Adams worked on projects related to the NC PFAS Testing Network and water quality. Now, as a public health Peace Corps volunteer, her work centers around malaria prevention, malnutrition, maternal healthcare and HIV/AIDS prevention.
“I think that the concerns and the projects that the Collaboratory works on, like water contamination for example, are just as relevant and important here in Africa as they are in North Carolina.”
While at UNC-Chapel Hill, Adams was also involved on campus with the Granville Student Government and her sorority’s philanthropy council. She also worked with The Arc of the Triangle, which supports children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) and autism.
Adams said she wanted to join the Peace Corps since her sophomore year at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is still in the three-month integration phase of her placement in Tumani Tenda. The host family she lives with does not speak any English and learning the tribal language Jola is difficult since it is not written, only spoken.
Building Confidence to Face New Challenges
“Interning at the Collaboratory made me feel very empowered and confident in the work I was doing and my capabilities. Leaving the Collaboratory, and stepping into this position, I kept that confidence that was instilled in me, and I carried with me the attitude that the Collaboratory empowered me with, not just as an intern, but as a person.”
Adams began her posting in The Gambia in October of 2022. She will remain there for 27 months. She will use both the professional takeaways from the Collaboratory to work on sanitation efforts and public health education.
Adams said when things get hard, she leans on the support of her friends and family back home, as well as reflecting on what she has accomplished up to this point.
“I think the biggest takeaway I learned at the Collaboratory is that if you put yourself out there and ask for help, you are going to get the support you need from other people,” she said. “Something I really admire about UNC and the Collaboratory is that no pun intended, collaboration is critical.”
Jenna Rupp (Hometown: Greenville, NC) is a junior Political Science and English and Comparative Literature major at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is working as a policy intern with the Collaboratory for the 2022-23 academic year.