MPH Grad Puts Public Health Training to Work in the Peace Corps

February 14, 2019

Trey Cardwell

Ethan Trey Cardwell graduated from the College of Public Health with a Master of Public Health in May 2018 and is currently in Lesotho, where he was sworn into service as a member of the Peace Corps on December 13, 2018. Cardwell will spend two years in Lesotho as part of the 88th cohort of volunteers, where will work with the Paray Mission Hospital in the Thaba Tseka district. His work will focus on the Adolescent Health Corner with the goal of increasing youth-friendly services -- particularly those related to HIV/AIDS.


“Being the only MPH in my Peace Corps cohort, and focusing my studies on sexually transmitted infections while at UK has put me at a particular advantage. During our Peace Corps training sessions we actually discussed the history of public health and theories like the stages of change. Due to my public health background I was able to co-facilitate sessions; how to use a male and female condom for example.”  


What inspired Cardwell to serve in the Peace Corps?


“We spend so much time learning about how we as public health professionals will be able to use our degrees to help others, and for me this was my chance to dive right in. Getting to use the knowledge I’ve garnered at UK, and serve as an ambassador for my country is very important to me. Americans now more than ever need to remember what really makes us great; it’s the action of presidents like John F. Kennedy establishing organizations that work towards peace and friendship amongst nations (the Peace Corps). I’m honored to be a Peace Corps Volunteer.”


Cardwell is also using his time in the Peace Corps to contemplate his career steps at the end of his service. “I would love to move to London to pursue a PhD in Global Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, but I’ve got two years to think on that.”


What is Cardwell’s advice for other public health graduates contemplating a future with the Peace Corps?


“Do it! There are some things you just can’t learn in a classroom and there are very few experiences that would compare to this one.  Your degree is only a bonus to all that you will learn through service.”


By Allison Elliott-Shannon



This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Catalyst, the magazine of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.