Hai-Ryung Sung comes from Jecheon City, South Korea. Jecheon is called the “healing city,” a fitting hometown for Sung, who, despite earning an undergraduate degree in computer science, has devoted her career to advancing public health.
Sung’s interest in health affairs began earlier, during her first year of college, when she joined Rotaract and provided care to children with mental and physical disabilities.
Her relationship with Rotary International would eventually bring her to Chapel Hill, where she earned her master’s degree at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. Today, Sung is a doctoral student at the Water Institute of UNC in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Sung’s current project, improving maternal and child health through better WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in health care facilities in Siem Reap, Cambodia, addresses the impact water and sanitation deficiencies have on child and maternal health in rural Cambodia.
“Through this project,” Sung explained, “we can reduce morbidity and mortality associated with poor drinking water in an especially vulnerable population—children under age five.”
While at UNC, Sung presented to Rotary clubs in Research Triangle Park, Durham, Chapel Hill and Roxboro, North Carolina.
This summer, after the better health through WaSH initiative is formally launched in Seoul, Sung will travel back to Siem Reap. Her first step will be to identify a local non-governmental organization (NGO) to partner with. Building a project that’s sustainable in the long-term will depend a lot on this decision. Of course, Sung already knows how important relationships are to the success of her work.