by Dylan McKee

Growing up in the southern United States and traveling across the world to Ghana can be simultaneously frightening and rewarding. For Audrey Reid, the experience of visiting Ghana changed her outlook on life forever.

Reid, a graduate research assistant, has worked at the SSRC since February of 2016. She is heavily involved in community development projects such as the USAID “Feed the Future” program that focuses on the northern region of Ghana. Originally from the Atlanta, GA, area, she stated that when searching for the right university for her, Mississippi State was the obvious choice.

“I came to campus, and I fell in love with it. This is one of seven universities in the southeast that offers a degree in child life; I toured all of them, but I really loved it here,” she stated.

When Reid got the opportunity to travel to Ghana for research on the USAID program, she quickly jumped at the opportunity. Aside from being a fun travel experience, this opportunity provided her with a unique chance to see concentrated disadvantage and privilege disparities up close. Traveling to Ghana allowed her to reflect on and learn about how gender affects empowerment in developing countries.

“We are seeking to improve the empowerment of women in Ghana because when you increase women’s empowerment, you’re really improving the society. Women’s empowerment is strongly tied to children’s education levels and well-being because women are often responsible for costs associated with the children,” said Reid. “So when women have more access to capital, their children reap the benefits. The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) project is hoping that women will find success in soybean farming and, therefore, will be strengthening the nation as a whole.”

When she isn’t working with the USAID program, Reid invests a great deal of her time into another program called Focused Pregnancy Prevention for Mississippi Teens (Focus4Teens). The Focus4Teens project is working together with a non-profit organization called Mississippi First in Clarksdale, MS, to reduce teen pregnancy in the Mississippi Delta.

Reid seemed very passionate about this program when explaining what they hope to accomplish.

“We’re hoping to establish referral and linkage systems between youth-serving organizations such as schools and churches, and health centers that can help provide birth control and sexually reproductive health services to teens.”

Having already achieved her bachelor’s degree in Child Studies, Reid is working to complete her master’s degree in Sociology here at Mississippi State University. Reid is working on a qualitative project concerning single women on welfare in Starkville, MS. She hopes to discover how welfare is working in a rural area where there are fewer low-income assistance programs such as homeless assistance and food pantries. She has just received a Loftin award to help pay incentives for the participants in this project, and she hopes to graduate in August of 2018.

SSRC Spotlight: Audrey Reid