Student Spotlight: Hope Arcuri ’18 Found Her Passion in Health Policy

April 04, 2017

Junior global health major Hope Arcuri came to Duke before she knew she was interested in global health. Drawn to Duke’s public policy program, Arcuri soon realized she wanted to delve deeper into the ways in which policy could impact poverty and health. 

After taking associate professor Sherryl Broverman’s AIDS and Emerging Diseases class, she knew she wanted global health to be deeply integrated into her college experience and added it as a co-major.

Passion for Studying HIV

Arcuri, who grew up in Winston Salem, North Carolina, developed a special passion to serve injection drug users after working in communities where people suffered from this disease in both Winston Salem and Durham. Her global health coursework gave Arcuri insights into the complex social issues that relate so closely to health and poverty. “You can’t make change until you understand all the little problems that contribute to the big problem, and that inspired me to learn as much as I could about global health,” she said. After doing further research, she decided to focus her learning on how to empower injection drug users and women to rise above HIV through policy.

This interest motivated Arcuri’s experiential learning experience with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders or MSF) in Geneva, Switzerland. While interning with MSF, she worked with the Stop Tuberculosis (TB) partnership to update the Out of Step Report, which holds governments accountable to TB prevention standards. Arcuri combed through health policies of thirty TB endemic countries and evaluated countries’ readiness to defeat the TB epidemic. The results, which are published in the report, will encourage policy-making organizations to develop a strong and comprehensive TB response that leaves no one with TB behind. 

“These days, TB is really an issue of corrupt governments,” Arcuri shared. “The WHO has established clear-cut guidelines that outline how governments should form policy to fight TB. Unfortunately, governments of many TB-endemic countries cut corners.” The aim of the Out of Step report is to hold governments accountable and pressure them into making changes that will positively impact the health of their constituents with TB.

Sharing Global Health Insight through Blogging

Arcuri is also the author of Words of Hope, a blog with nearly 2,500 followers. While many of her posts are personal reflections on her life, Arcuri created a new section of the blog, “THE: Trump’s Health Effects,” in the weeks leading up to President Trump’s inauguration. 

THE arose from a 120-page report Arcuri completed for her internship, which outlined how the Trump administration will affect twenty areas of health. The goal of THE is to synthesize information about Trump’s health policy from a variety of sources to attempt to clarify where he stands on a range of health policy issues, and how his administration will impact those issues.

“With facts and data, I learned that some of my preconceived notions about how Trump would affect health were often wrong. I discovered that some of his plans were even worse than I could have expected, but that, surprisingly, some were much more promising than I had assumed.” 

Connecting DGHI with a Future in Health Policy

Arcuri is thankful for the professors at DGHI and how connected they are to students and to their work. “The professors are very approachable and extremely passionate about their research and how it’s shaping the world on a global scale,” she shared. “That’s not something you see in every field of research here at Duke.”

Arcuri is planning to complete an internship with the United States Agency for International Development this summer where she will work as a health policy researcher in the Maternal and Child Health Office. After graduating in 2018, she plans to begin a career in health policy.

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Hope Arcuri on one of the most famous mountains in the Alps (Mont Blanc) during one of her weekends off from work.

You can’t make change until you understand all the little problems that contribute to the big problem, and that inspired me to learn as much as I could about global health.

Hope Arcuri, global health and public policy co-major

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