Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Fall/Winter 2010 (November 8, 2010)

In Step with Women

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November 8, 2010
By Amelia Buzzell’10

Mia ForemanMia Foreman’00 is focused on the women of the world.

Whether it’s through her work helping to improve women’s health in several countries, or in her free time, when she performs with an all-female drum corps, her life revolves around empowering women.

Foreman has always sought challenges. She spent off-campus undergraduate semesters in Ecuador and in the Chicago Urban Studies program and enrolled in rigorous courses at Beloit, such as Emerging Infectious Diseases, taught by Professor of Biology Marion Field Fass.

Her first job out of college was at a public health clinic in Seattle, Wash., where she worked with women seeking abortions.

“It was really stressful,” she says, “but I saw the critical need for comprehensive reproductive health services. It’s always been something I’ve been passionate about.”

After Beloit, Foreman earned a master’s degree in public health and international health and development from Tulane University.

Now, she lives in Washington, D.C., where she assists non-governmental organizations that provide family planning services in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. She does this through her job with ICF Macro, a private company that contracts with USAID. The organization’s recent initiatives include making long-term and permanent contraception methods more widely available in rural areas, especially those without trained nurses or doctors.

“I’ve gotten to go to so many countries and into the villages where the programs are actually happening and meet the people who are affected by these services. I feel very fortunate,” Foreman says of her travels to the field, which she makes two to three times each year.

When she is not at her desk or traveling, Foreman devotes many hours to an unusual pastime. She drums with Batala Washington, an all-female drum corps that combines Afro-Brazilian percussion with choreography. She performs and serves as one of the group’s production chairs, who book the band’s shows.

Batala Washington’s 60-plus members perform at locations all over the country, from rock clubs to parades. Even rehearsals outside the Farragut West metro station in D.C. draw crowds each Saturday. The only Batala band in the United States, the group was voted “Best Local Band” by the Washington City Paper earlier this year.

Foreman plays the dobra, a mid-bass drum that she straps around her waist. “It probably looks heavier than it is,” Foreman says. “It’s big and it’s kind of a pain to carry around, and I have a million dents and scratches on my car from it.” The band is rounded out with two kinds of bass drums called surdos, a drum called the repique, and the snare.

“The times I’m laughing my head off with all the women around me, or when we’re performing onstage and we get a standing ovation, I just feel like, ‘Wow, I’m really living every day as much as I can,’” Foreman says. “It’s a huge part of my life.”

“I get to do a lot of cool things,” she says. “While my job is mostly a desk job, when I do get to go to the field, or when I do see a policy change in a foreign country to support family planning, those are the times I feel so, so lucky. Beloit definitely provides you the keys to go out and do what you want to do. I still question every day, is this what I want to do? And that, I think, comes from Beloit.”

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