Using Computer Science to Support Public Health in Peru

During her summer internship, Allie Lake ’14 designed a medical records database for a health care nonprofit.

Computer science and math double major and recent graduate Allie Lake ’14 spent this summer working for Sacred Valley Health in the rural town of Ollantaytambo, Peru. Lake served as the organization’s monitoring and evaluations intern, and was responsible for the creation and programming of a medical records database for the small public health nonprofit. Lake’s internship was sponsored by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship as part of its Senior Bridge program.

Sacred Valley Health’s previous patient records system consisted of hard-copy forms and spreadsheets, which the organization had outgrown. Lake developed the new system’s front- and back-end, choosing the programming language herself, and customizing the layout of each page to improve user experience. She also taught employees how to access and use the new system. “The outcome of my project will significantly impact the way the organization functions in the future,” she says.

Being the sole designer and manager of the database had its ups and downs for Lake, but she quickly learned to adapt. “It was both a challenge and a rewarding experience having such control over my project,” says Lake. “There was no professor to ask for help when I was struggling with some aspect, but that forced me to become a more self-sufficient problem-solver.”

In addition to her work for Sacred Valley Health, Lake has had the opportunity to practice her Spanish language skills, and to explore the mountainous area around Ollantaytambo. “Not only did it put my project in perspective to experience first-hand the communities that my work pertained to, but hiking in the beautiful mountain region was an absolutely breathtaking experience,” she says.

—Kelsey Ryan '14