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Careers: Recent Graduates

Arianne Folkema

Arianne Folkema with a child in Kenya

What degree did you graduate Calvin with?

BS in biochemistry

What's your official position where you are working now?

Master of public health student – Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

Please give a brief description of your tasks for this position.

Although I am currently a student, I am also working on my practicum to fulfill the degree requirements. I am working with the Rwanda Zambia HIV/AIDS research group which does HIV/Research on discordant couples and provides testing and services to its clients. I am also working with the Atlanta veteran affairs hospital, participating in an HIV cohort study to determine the potential adverse outcomes of anti-retroviral therapy in vulnerable populations.

Please describe briefly the path you've followed since graduation that led you to this position

I graduated from Calvin in 2004 after which I received a position as a laboratory assistant in a cancer research lab at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Mi. In November 2004, I was accepted as a CIDA (Canadian International Development Association) intern with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) in Kenya, where I worked as an HIV/AIDS program monitoring assistant in a rural clinic. This position extended into a two year internship, after which I was transferred to Uganda for a temporary 6 month position working with the church of Uganda’s Planning and Development office in Hoima District. I entered graduate school in August of 2007 which is where I am at present.

How does your faith influence the work that you do?

My faith is my motivation to continue working in the international development field. There are times that work isn’t necessarily rewarding, and you don’t feel that anything you are doing is making any difference. But, my faith reminds me that God is calling me to do something to bring about reconciliation and justice in this world and He will lead me in the path of righteousness.

What is your best advice for current IDS students? 

Get international experience in whatever way that you can. The IDS classes are great and give you good basis in theory and skills that can greatly help you in your approach to development, but there are just some things you cannot learn in a classroom setting...Not to mention the fact that if you’re looking for a job, multiple years of experience are often a requirement.

What is your biggest regret looking back at your time at Calvin? What do you wish you had done differently?

I wish that I had gotten more involved in organizations in Grand Rapids and student clubs at Calvin. Although classes and jobs are important, it is good to stay in touch with the issues in the real world and take action. It’s also a great opportunity to make contacts and develop mentoring relationships!

Do you have any other words of hope or wisdom to offer soon-to-be IDS graduates?

Make the most of every experience. Even when things aren’t what you expected or planned, chances are that you can learn a lot from the situation and that it is just one step in a long journey of things that God has in store for you.