Prepared to Achieve
Ohio Wesleyan Student Completes Coursework, Research in Southern Africa
Name: Jasmyn Zimmerman ’25
Hometown: Vermilion, Ohio
High school: Vermilion High School
Major: Pre-Professional Zoology
Minor: Women’s and Gender Studies
OWU Connection Experiences: Visiting Eswatini, Lesotho, and South Africa to complete a Women’s and Gender Studies/Health Communications Travel-Learning Course and to conduct research with support from a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant
DEI Grant Research
Zimmerman’s research project is titled “The Erasure of Black Women and Black People in Southern African Wildlife Crime & Conservation Research.”
“Through my grant,” she says, “I am examining the historical exclusion of Black people, more specifically Black women, from studies on wildlife crime and conservation efforts. I plan to use my results to raise awareness about how inclusion improves the success of conservation efforts and the importance of researching women’s roles in wildlife crime.”
Zimmerman traveled to Southern Africa this summer to complete the spring semester course, “Health Communication: Black Women and Feminisms.” Faculty members Phokeng Dailey (Journalism and Communication) and Dawn Chisebe (Africana, Gender, and Identity Studies / AGIS) taught the class and led the three-week trip.
“The focus of our Travel-Learning Course was to learn from local people and analyze how language, culture, race, and gender interact to affect health outcomes and the ways in which Black women have participated in health activism,” Zimmerman says. “Other topics we focused on were forms of decolonization in Lesotho, South Africa, and Eswatini, as well as the connections between the three countries.
“The most important lesson I learned was that how a place, event, or identity is taught frames public perceptions of said place, event, and identity. And some of the ways these perceptions manifest can be seen in levels of access to healthcare and tourist behavior in visited spaces.”
My Favorite Moments
“My favorite moment of the trip was getting a chance to speak with the Ministry of Maternal and Natal Health in Eswatini because it gave us insight into how the healthcare system functioned in the country and specifically how it impacted Black women and maternal mortality.
“I also connected what we learned there with how other countries were handling similar situations such as Black rural women’s access to healthcare during their pregnancies. For example, in Eswatini it is hard to get pregnant women from rural areas to a birthing center quickly enough when in labor or if complications arise.
“Lesotho’s solution to the same issue has been that they have created rooms to house women in the hospitals a month or two before they are expected to give birth so they can easily access the care they need.”
Traveling with Professors
“This trip would not have been as informative or impactful without Dr. Dailey and Professor Chisebe because they consistently challenge us to examine what we have previously learned and look at issues from perspectives often excluded from mainstream narratives.
“With Professor Chisebe’s background as a nurse, she was able to give us real-life examples of how racism, xenophobia, and sexism affect patient health outcomes. … Dr. Dailey was able to provide us with firsthand knowledge about how Lesotho and other Southern African countries are interconnected and how they work despite having been colonized and barred from their own resources.”
“This summer I am conducting NASA-funded research with Dr. (Chris) Wolverton that focuses on what genes are involved in plant gravity perception. This work will help further our understanding of what is needed to ensure the successful growth of plants in long-duration spaceflight conditions.
“Some extracurriculars I am involved in on campus include Pet Pals, the Biology Board, and Women in Science. In addition to this, I am a student worker at the library and Zoology Museum.”
Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan
“I decided to attend Ohio Wesleyan because it has a tight-knit culture, substantial financial aid, smaller classroom sizes, and undergraduate research opportunities.”
My Plans After Graduation
“After I graduate, I intend to find employment in an area related to my field of study or pursue graduate school. By providing opportunities like the Summer Science Research Program and Travel-Learning Courses, OWU has assisted in preparing me to achieve my goals.”