SIT Graduate Institute

Brattleboro, VT | Washington, DC

Working with refugees

Meet SIT Alumna Jennifer Sato

jennifer satoProgram Coordinator, Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights

I have long been involved in public health and working with emergency issues, starting as a paramedic and then working toward prevention via literacy-based programming. In my work I was exposed to vulnerable populations, especially those who had been exposed to war trauma. This led me to decide to study at SIT; I believed it would offer me the chance to more deeply inform my practice in public health by focusing on conflict transformation and post-war development and how health plays a role in conflict, recovery, and improved social functioning once the direct violence has ended.

I chose SIT because of its holistic approach. Along with my conflict courses, I was able to study research methods, training and facilitation, and program management. I was able to leave SIT with not only the theory necessary to better inform my work but the skills and tools to take action and make me a more versatile practitioner.

I was able to leave SIT with not only the theory necessary to better inform my work but the skills and tools to take action and make me a more versatile practitioner.

During my practicum phase at SIT, I pursued work at the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights, a psychiatric outpatient clinic for refugees and asylum seekers recovering from the traumas associated with fleeing conflict and torture. I started as a health literacy intern, providing health-related workshops to the center’s patient body. I was hired at the end of my practicum phase and am now the program coordinator.

I am lucky to benefit from a great amount of flexibility and am given a lot of room to create programs and develop advocacy strategies. I continue to facilitate health literacy workshops and have recently developed a conflict resolution workshop. I also assist in research endeavors, data analysis, and grant writing. Best of all, I get to work one on one with the clients, helping to pursue community engagement and improved social functioning. Every day I get to see people achieve greater health and happiness.

It is thanks to SIT that I am able to deliver appropriate, well-informed care to a population that truly needs and deserves it. Not a day goes by that I don’t use what I learned at SIT.

I plan to continue my work within mental health with survivors of torture. I hope to build the capacity of the center to see more patients, and I hope to pursue a clinical degree in psychiatry so that I may continue my work in both public health and conflict transformation.