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Alumni Participation Challenge

Pauline
Wafula ’13

Economics major and mathematics minor from Nairobi, Kenya

As a Levitt Summer Research Fellow, Pauline Wafula ’13 developed a study to help explain why women in her native Kenya face a disproportionately high rate of HIV/AIDS infections as compared to men. After gathering data from the Kenyan National Demographic Survey and UNAIDS, Pauline found that women with a secondary education have a 3.1 percent lower infection rate than those with no education. Although expanding the country’s education system would be costly, Pauline believes the savings from reduced health-care expenses would prove more economical in the long run.

"This project combines my interests in health care, economics and education. For me, it is also personal. When my aunt passed away from AIDS, her children were orphaned. Each was sent to be raised by a different family member, so my cousin grew up with us. He is like my brother. I know that it would be hard [to enact change], but I hope my results can show policymakers back home the importance of education."

— Pauline Wafula ’13

"I want students to see what the research process is like from start to finish — choosing a topic, reading the literature that is out there, looking at data and testing hypotheses. By taking an even-handed, unbiased approach, students get a sense of how real-world issues are questioned and analyzed. In Pauline’s case, her project was especially rewarding because of her personal connection. The results of her research are encouraging."

— Stephen Wu
Professor of Economics

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