LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 7, 2018) - Trey Cardwell only applied to one school for undergrad, the University of Kentucky. When the time came to choose a graduate program to continue his education, once again he chose UK. "One of the reasons I chose to stay at UK was because the opportunities were so much greater, especially in the field of sexual health," Cardwell said.
When Cardwell first began his undergraduate career, he chose to study biology and planned to become a physician. After working as a peer health educator at University Health Service for two years, he realized he could improve health another way and decided to pursue a master's in public health.
Cardwell said, "I liked that you can influence an entire community or population rather than working with one person at a time." In 2016, Carwell began his graduate studies in the UK College of Public Health Department of Health, Behavior & Society.
Just as he anticipated, Cardwell has had many opportunities to work on the health issues he's passionate about - health disparities in the LGBTQ* community.
Cardwell is currently involved with research projects that aim to assess and improve the health of men who have sex with men (MSM). One of those studies hopes to reduce rates of HIV/AIDS by identifying how social networks impact risk-taking behaviors among MSM in Lexington. The other study examines the prevalence of Human papillomavirus (HPV) among MSM.
Additionally, Cardwell worked with Kristen Mark and Courtney Hoffman to develop Take the Reins: Sex questions expertly answered, a resource for people to ask questions about sexual health and have them answered by experts. Cardwell believes this project is an important one because "one of the reasons we have disparities in the U.S. is because we don't talk about health and we need to."
"I've always had an interest in global health" Cardwell said, and that's why he is participating in the Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) education abroad program in Ecuador during spring break. Cardwell, along with peers from other fields, are participating in the service abroad program. Cardwell will be involved with the health education team, a group of undergraduate students who will provide education on nutrition, hygiene and exercise as well as sexual and oral health in the Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro, the local clinic affiliated with UK’s STSG located in Santo Domingo, Ecuador.
Cardwell will continue gaining experience in global health in September when he moves to Lesotho, a small south African nation, where he will live and work for the next two years through the Peace Corps. While in the program, Cardwell will work to increase and improve education on the prevention or HIV/AIDS. Cardwell is excited by the prospect of developing a program based on the resources, cultural beliefs and needs of the community he will serve.
After the Peace Corps, Cardwell plans to apply for J.D./Ph.D. programs to learn more about health policy and global health. He hopes one day to lead a global health organization like the United Nations or World Health Organization. But, for now, he's focused on finishing his last semester of graduate school.