David Carel '13: Better health care in South Africa through public policy

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David Carel doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet, and that’s not just because — along with Israeli folk dancing and West African drumming — long-distance running is one of his passions. An economics major at Yale, Carel grew up outside of Philadelphia and has roots in South Africa (from where both his parents hail) and Israel (where many of his relatives settled), and he has spent time in both countries.

Carel’s interest in biology and medicine propelled him to volunteer after his freshman year at a pediatric center in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Later he returned to the region to implement an AIDS/HIV education and awareness program for at-risk youth.

Before his first trip, he tried to teach himself Zulu from a phrase book. Now, with the job experience and classes at Yale under his belt, he is proficient in the language.

He put the experience into action too, becoming the president of an AIDS coalition group at Yale and a national board member of the Student Globe AIDS campaign. He is also a Yale Global Health Initiative Fellow.

On his second stint in KwaZulu, Carel surveyed area youth about the quality of local health care services, and it occurred to him that one could customize the survey for other kinds of evaluations. Indeed, back at Yale he joined classmate Aaron Feuer in founding a company loosely based on that model, but in this case the goal is to have American public school students evaluate their classes and teachers.  

“We provide affordable information for school districts, teachers, students, and parents,” says Carel of the company, which is going strong. He plans to continue working for it remotely from Oxford.

Carel will earn a master’s in social policy at Oxford with the immediate goal of returning to South Africa and eventually to the United States, where he hopes to work on health care policy on a national level. “Public policy,” he says, “seems like a tangible way to have an impact.”

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