Alumni Spotlight: Dorothy Mangale MS’13

Early experiences in the field spark a desire to turn research into problem-solving action.

Dorothy Mangale

Published September 16, 2022, last updated on September 19, 2022 under Alumni Stories

Before coming to the U.S. for college, Kenyan-born Dorothy Mangale spent two years in Singapore, where she volunteered at a center that provided care for people living with HIV. Having already witnessed the impact of the virus in Kenya, she saw that people living with HIV in Singapore faced many of the same struggles and stigmas.

“I learned how connected people from different parts of the world could be and that we could learn how to overcome challenges from each other,” says Mangale, who earned her Master of Science in Global Health in 2013. “That and the opportunity to practice problem solving from a context other than my own was what intrigued me and started me on this journey.”

Now a Ph.D. candidate in global health implementation science at the University of Washington, Mangale is still working to help people with HIV overcome those challenges. In this interview, conducted over email and edited for length and clarity. she shares some of the lessons she’s learned from her research and how it continues to fuel her passion for advocating for adolescent health in her home country and elsewhere.

Tell us about the work you are doing now.

I’m working on my dissertation that evaluates how HIV care providers in Kenya pivoted to telemedicine in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to sustain services for adolescents and youth living with HIV. I’m also a graduate analyst and a teaching assistant in the Department.

Apart from my dissertation, I am involved in the evaluation of the national roll out of HPV vaccination among nine-year-old girls in Kenya. I am also a co-investigator on several costing studies related to HIV and cervical cancer screening. Lastly for the past year I’ve been working to provide technical support for the economic evaluation of a new health information system to be used across several countries.

What inspires me is the desire to leave the world better for the generations coming after me. It’s no wonder that the population of interest across the majority of my projects is children and youth.

Dorothy Mangale — Master of Science in Global Health, 2013

Why did you choose to pursue global health?

I wanted to merge my interest in improving health outcomes at the population level with my appreciation for and experience in contexts other than my own. I chose to pursue global health so that I could develop skill sets in research and policy that would prepare me for a career dedicated to generating data to support evidence-based decisions at various levels of the health system.

Was there an experience you had during your time with DGHI that was particularly impactful?

My fieldwork experience in Cambodia was probably the most impactful. It provided my first glimpse of what a career as a global health researcher might look like.

In what ways did studying global health at Duke prepare you for your current work?

Every time someone asks me what I liked about my master’s experience at Duke I always talk exuberantly about the fieldwork experience. The program made it possible for everyone to develop their own proposals, handle getting ethics approval and then travel to collect data. I don’t know of any other program that grants all its master’s students such an opportunity. I think I grew a lot from that experience and learnt how to conduct global health research.

The second thing I’d point out is the amazing cohort I got to learn with during my time. I am still in contact with a handful of them and consider them lifelong friends.

Where do you see your career heading in the future?

Great question! As a trainee in implementation science, I am interested in roles that support rapid and active translation of research findings. I’d like to work as a faculty researcher at a university or a research scientist in a nonprofit that integrates implementation science theories and frameworks in its operations. Maybe a little vague but that’s where I am now. I have a few more years before I have to nail down a specific role.

What is the best piece of advice you have gotten in your journey?

This is a hard question because I learn so much every day! It never ends. I guess the best piece of advice is to stay open to learning -- the opportunities are all around you.

What inspires you to do the work you do?

Two things: first, what inspires me is the desire to leave the world better for the generations coming after me. It’s no wonder that the population of interest across the majority of my projects is children and youth. The second thing is a desire to achieve global health equity. I would like my work to add to that of many others who are working hard to eliminate disparities in healthcare globally and locally.

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