Dahianira Camacho Monclova - Medical Anthropology MSc
8 March 2021
In 2017, I moved from Puerto Rico to London to complete my degree in Medical Anthropology at UCL. I was one of the first in my whole family to pursue a graduate degree and definitely the first to study abroad anywhere - never had I been to Europe or without my closed ones for so long. My undergrad major was in Biology but early on I had realized I was not going to be motivated to do benchwork working with fungi or with rats in a neuroscience lab.
Having just taken one Sociology and one Anthropology course, I found real interest in the social sciences. With the guidance of my Anthropology professor, I discovered that the Medical Anthropology field was just the area I could develop in because it perfectly combines health and illness perceptions and challenges within a myriad of systems across the globe. I completed a bachelor’s in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey amid challenging political and environmental times. Within a few months, the university was on 2+ month strike and we got hit by back-to-back category 4+ hurricanes. I missed Hurricane Maria by 3 days so my London experience got off to an interesting start – very much serving as an introduction to what I would later learn and question.
Among other MSc options in this field, UCL seemed like the best election not only in terms of reputation but because of their experienced faculty and the opportunity of doing hands-on fieldwork. I was able to enroll in very interesting courses such as Ritual Healing and Therapeutic Emplotment and Multisensory Experience: Understanding Sickness and Health Through the Senses and also had the opportunity to do my fieldwork dissertation at Findhorn, Scotland! Additionally, our weekly MED ANTH seminars summoned international field experts to share their work followed by a social which was a great occasion to network. I am grateful for the classmates that became my friends, the flat that became my home and the knowledge imparted that has become my academic background. After graduating, I came back to Puerto Rico where I have been working as a research assistant at the Center for Clinical Research and Health Promotion at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.
My short-term goals include getting accepted to a PhD in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences in order to collaborate in research, teach and be part of the efforts that contextualize health care in every scenario locally and globally. In the meantime, I address everything with the anthropological lens that lets me question the societal structure that facilitates or impedes health accessibility, treatment compliance or lifestyle habits that in the end affect quality of life.. whatever it may mean to anyone.