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Student Spotlight: Senior Michael Hu Was Drawn to DGHI Faculty

April 12, 2016

Michael Hu, a senior from Orlando, Florida, didn’t come to Duke knowing he would be a global health major. After a strong pre-medicine program and infectious disease research opportunities drew him to Duke, Hu applied for the global health focus cluster in his first semester to “check out” the field. 

Through this experience, Hu was exposed to the world of global health and met Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) professor Sherryl Broverman and affiliate faculty member Catherine Admay. The introductory classes he took, coupled with relationships he developed with Duke faculty who study infectious diseases, helped Hu decide to complete a global health certificate, since the global health major was not available at that time. When DGHI announced the undergraduate global health co-major, Hu knew it was the choice for him.

Fieldwork Led to Senior Thesis Project

Hu completed his first global health work the summer after his freshman year, working for DGHI's Center for Health Policies and Inequalities Research. In this role, he assisted with an intervention in a clinic near Duke Hospital that involved group counseling, individual counseling, and psychiatry for a triple-stigmatized population: HIV positive men who have sex with men and who were drug addicts.

Additionally, Hu participated in DGHI’s Student Research Training (SRT) program in central Uganda, where he traveled with a team of other students and his mentor, assistant global health professor Sumi Ariely, to study water quality and safety of water-handling procedures. Hu collected water samples from the point of use and from the source, mapping roads in the area as he collected the data. He turned the project into a senior thesis that he’s working on now.

The Value of Mentorship

Hu’s favorite thing about being part of DGHI is the mentorship he receives. “Pretty much every single professor here is really nice,” Hu shared. “I appreciate how open the professors are to just talking through things. I have so many advisors here, both official and unofficial, that I meet with very frequently.”

Advocating for Global Health Education Programs

Hu is one of two students that founded the Global Health Majors’ Union (GHMU).  He believes that the GHMU will be a great way for students within the global health major to connect to each other and to informal mentors. He wants to help students to understand earlier in the program that the global health major is very feasible, even for students who are considering medical school or trying to balance the major with other academic requirements, and that it can be taken in countless directions.

After graduating, Hu will attend medical school, where he also plans to complete a master of public health degree.

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Michael_Hu_and_Team
(Far left) Garrett Berk, one of Michael Hu's Student Research Training (SRT) program teammates, and Michael (far right) with members of one of the village health teams during Hu's SRT fieldwork in Uganda.

I appreciate how open the professors are to just talking through things. I have so many advisors here, both official and unofficial, that I meet with very frequently.

Michael Hu '16, biology and global health major

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