Recha Reid ’05 is using all the resources she has to make her mark on the world. This isn’t a recent development. Leaving her home in Jamaica in 2001, Reid came to Wesleyan to study international relations and earned a double major that included Spanish. Beyond the research required for her majors, this human rights activist chose to conduct additional independent research.One project focused on international law and child labor in India and how forcing children to work impacts the country’s national trade. Concerns about the plight of children around the world continue to fuel her research today.
After graduating from Wesleyan, Reid moved to Colombia to teach English as a second language and to hone her own Spanish-speaking skills. “I knew enough Spanish to have a basic conversation and to read, but I wanted to be able to have fluent, in-depth conversations. I chose Colombia because they speak the purest form of Spanish.”
After ten months in Colombia, Reid moved to England to earn her master’s degree in international studies with a concentration in diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. After working with the National Institutes of Health, United Kingdom, for several years, she accepted a position at Savannah State University (Georgia) as program manager for a NIH-NIMHD Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) grant. There she ensured that an infrastructure within the university was created where students in four different programs could work alongside STEM field researchers in a lab environment or in the community.
“Our research found that students who are involved in STEM research tend to graduate in STEM fields. The professors make the subject come alive in ways that are fun and exciting. Students were interviewed to determine who would take the program seriously and who were likely to be successful. Interestingly, on average per year, the groups included six females and only one male.”
Today, Reid works at a Georgia Institute of Technology research center inspecting reports to make sure the required mandates for grant funding are met. She is also pursuing her Ph.D. in international relations and comparative politics at Georgia State University. Recently, she studied the relationship between sanitation facilities on high school campuses in Africa and the drop-out rate of female students. “Research conducted by the United Nations indicated that African girls drop out of high school because there are no single-sex toilets. There are mandates that schools must have separate toilets for girls and boys, but because having two toilets is very expensive, some institutions opt to have no toilets at all. My research found that as long as there are toilets within the institution, it doesn’t matter to students if they are single-sex or not. There is a substantial difference in the drop out rate between schools with toilets and those without. I found this to be equally true among boys and girls.”
Always a crusader for human rights, Reid has decided the topic for her dissertation will be human trafficking. “The available data on human trafficking is inadequate and cannot be trusted. Currently self reporting is relied upon for data about human trafficking and no country wants to report a high rate. Such information affects contracts and agreements and a country’s overall image. I will research and report data that can be trusted. I strongly suspect the volume of human trafficking is substantially more than is being reported.”