Oct. 10, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- When Brittany Ammerman boarded a plane last May destined for Kenya, she had no idea how different her perspective on women’s health would be by the time she returned to the United States.
Ammerman was one of 12 UW-Madison students selected to travel to Kenya as a volunteer with the non-profit Health by Motorbike. The goal of the trip was to educate Kenyan women about women’s health who could then share the knowledge with others in their communities. Ammerman spent a month immersed in the program, teaching women in rural African about anatomy, reproduction, maternal health, nutrition and communicable disease.
She stumbled upon her affinity for women’s health while searching for career-related experience. A double major in biology and women’s studies, Ammerman plans to go to medical school after graduating from UW. To gain experience in her field, she shadowed doctors in several different specialties, including orthopedics and cardiovascular.
However, it wasn’t until she began shadowing Dr. Lisa Barroilhet, a gynecologic oncologist at UW Health, that Ammerman realized she had found her calling.
“I didn’t find a connection with the other specialties,” Ammerman said. “Then I saw how Dr. Barroilhet interacts with patients and helps improve their lives and I knew that was the specialty for me.”
Barroilhet has enjoyed mentoring someone as passionate for women’s health issues as Ammerman.
“She’s incredibly enthusiastic. It’s very motivating,” Barroilhet said. “My clinic can be quite taxing, so it’s really cool to have someone there that reminds you that your job is actually quite awesome.”
Since returning from Kenya, Ammerman has used her experiences as motivation to raise awareness of women’s health issues on campus.
Along with some of her teammates, Ammerman volunteered at the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance Whisper Walk and 5K Run on Sept. 22 and also spearheaded an effort to get her fellow student-athletes involved in the Global Health Walk of Madison on Sept. 28. The walk was a worldwide initiative to raise money and awareness for women’s cancer treatment and took place in more than 60 countries.
“I don’t think anyone walked more than Brittany,” Barroilhet said. “To take time out of her hectic schedule on a beautiful weekend to be a voice and bring attention to these issues says a lot about her character.
“She’s just a really special young person.”