Reflections of 2020 DGHI Graduates

Parting memories from Duke's global health grads

Published May 07, 2020 under Education News

2020 DGHI graduates share reflections

This week, we asked many of our 2020 global health graduates to share reflections about their experiences at DGHI. They reminisced about their favorite global health courses, mentors who became guiding forces and friends, and what lies ahead for them in a world that's been profoundly altered by a pandemic during their final months as global health students.

 

On DGHI in general…

“I stumbled upon the global health department [fall of freshman year] and thought it looked interesting enough to select the fundamentals course to try out that fall. Little did I know I would fall in love with global health through that course and decide to major in it!

Hannah Shepard BS’20

 

“I came to realize global health is a really cool field. It draws together so many different disciplines and that really appeals to me — the ability to transcend and translate disparate areas of inquiry and ways of thinking.”

— Jessica Marlow BA’20

 

“As part of my academic pursuits with DGHI, I had innumerable unique experiences including study abroad in Costa Rica, a Duke Engage project in Kenya, partnerships with local health organizations in North Carolina, my own independent research project bridging my three areas of study at Duke, a masters-level global health course.”

—Nicholas Santangelo BA’19 (December)

 

“One of the things I am most grateful for about at Duke is their unique global health institute and the ability to study this in tandem with another discipline. As a double major in both a STEM field and global health, I feel I have truly taken a wide breadth of courses and had a much more holistic experience because of this track available to me.” 

Hannah Shepard BS’20

 

On fieldwork and research…

“One of my most memorable global health experiences was with my Bass Connections team on refugee healthcare in Durham. We investigated significant health needs and barriers to accessing care among refugees in Durham, by reaching out to local refugee-serving organizations and by conducting focus groups. I had the opportunity to interview refugees from francophone countries, synthesize our findings, and help prepare our manuscript which was recently accepted for publication. I was able to apply some of the background knowledge I had on systemic issues with refugee healthcare from my coursework, as well as gain a more nuanced and real-world perspective on the topic.”

— Pranav Ganapathy BA’20

 

“One of the most impactful experiences during my time at DGHI was working with Dr. Henry Rice and our research team, including conducting research in Guatemala City. This experience provided me with opportunities to optimistically and creatively face and learn from research challenges.”

— Kelsey Landrum MS’20

 

“During my fieldwork experience in Kisumu, Kenya, I [had some difficulties getting research approvals] that made for a very stressful time, as I was unsure if I was ever going to be able to conduct my study, which would have had major negative implications for my second year in the program… But the members of my research team, especially those based in the Kisumu office of The Center for Global Reproductive Health, were extremely supportive and helped to keep me focused and busy as we awaited approval.”

— Jacob Stocks MS’20

 

“Junior summer I went to India and did mental health research with children and caregivers in a residential care setting in Dehli. India was a really hard time and it really actually made me question whether I wanted to pursue global health. It was emotionally difficult research… that is not something you learn about in the classroom. When you go into peoples’ homes it’s important you do not come from a place of power and privilege and that you navigate that in a way that is ethical while conducting research, showing kindness and love.”

— Jessica Marlow BA’20

 

On faculty and classes…

“While there are many individuals at DGHI that have influenced, inspired, and empowered me, Dr. Clements has been such a supportive mentor that brightens everyone's day. He shows genuine belief and care in every one of his students, and this positive energy has always further excited my passion for global health.”

—Tiffanny Jiang BS’20

 

“My first interaction with global health at Duke occurred during this period when I joined a friend who was enrolled in Dr. Sherryl Broverman's AIDS & Emerging Diseases class. While I hadn't seriously considered global health prior to attending that first class, I was immediately drawn in as the first lecture and many that followed felt like captivating documentaries that I did not want to finish. While that was my largest class at Duke, I still regard it as one of my favorites and as a major influence in my decision to pursue global health studies.

—Nicholas Santangelo BA’19 (December)

 

“[A] very insightful part of my global health experience at Duke was Global Health 306 with Professor Gavin Yamey. This class provided a lens on the global health landscape by teaching me about the actors, systems, and processes that drive change in the field. I also learned how to communicate my ideas in an effective and concise manner; I still remember the final paper for the class, which involved proposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce obesity in Durham. Additionally, one of the speakers in the class, Professor David Ridley, really sparked my interest with his guest lecture. Professor Ridley would later end up becoming my advisor for my senior thesis on auction mechanisms for neglected disease drug innovation.”

— Pranav Ganapathy BA’20

 

There’s one experience that stands above the rest for me during my time in the MSc program. I had the chance to participate in the Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva. During that program I got the chance to complete an intensive course week with Dr. Gavin Yamey and intern with UNAIDS. Moving into the MSc program after being an undergraduate at Duke, I was really interested in getting more exposure to health policy, and my time in Geneva was the perfect way to do that. I was constantly surrounded by some of the most passionate, innovative and brilliant individuals that I’ve ever met. After completing that program, I just knew that a career in health policy and advocacy would be the right decision for me. This is particularly relevant now with COVID-19 exposing the glaring structural inequities within the US healthcare system.”

— John Bollinger BS’18 MS’20

 

I think my greatest asset from DGHI was its faculty. My coursework out of the global health department has been compelling and has made me question the frameworks (whether mental or physical) around me.” 

— Hope Jackson BA’20

 

I did my SRT program in Honduras with Dr. Clements. That was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve had with Duke. He has single handledy shaped my Duke career into what it is. He is a phenomenal mentor and life coach. Hes not just a professor he’s a friend.

—Yesha Desai BS’20

 

“Narratives of Living with HIV/AIDS… Dr. Kearsley Stewart ran the class in a way that fueled really wonderful discussion about art and personal narrative, and as a biology major this type of thinking really challenged me. Dr. Stewart was passionate about knowing her students individually and significantly and I really felt as though she cared about my trajectory as a student, person, and global health colleague.”

Hannah Shepard BS’20

 

“While participating in the Duke in Costa Rica program, I was introduced to Dr. David Boyd who visited for a few days as part of the program's evaluation. We only spoke a few times during his visit to the program, but our conversations were always meaningful and he quickly became one of my trusted mentors within DGHI. He was my instructor for Fundamentals of Global Health (101) during my second year, and he was certainly one of the best teachers that I had at Duke.”

—Nicholas Santangelo BA’19 (December)

 

“US Health Disparities… I loved Dr. Jen’nan Read's passion about health issues and her deep knowledge of how they have come about. I was particularly struck by doing projects and lessons on the disparities that exist right here in the Durham community as well.”

Hannah Shepard BS’20

 

“I am immensely grateful to have been a teaching assistant for GLHLTH 705 and 707 and to have worked with and learned from Drs. Liz Turner, Larry Park and Joe Egger. This experience not only challenged me to improve my understanding of course material but allowed me to practice creating a welcoming learning environment for colleagues.”

— Kelsey Landrum MS’20

 

“Dr. Eve Puffer had a huge impact on my Duke experience through the two classes I took with her: Global Mental Health and Child and Family Interventions. As a Global Health/Psychology double major, her experiences lined up perfectly with the intersection between the two fields that I was most interested in.”

— Rachel Baber BA’20

 

On the future…

“I plan to go to medical school after taking a gap year. I think I’d like to go into pediatrics.”

—Yesha Desai BS’20

 

 “I would like to pursue a career in health-related research, my next step is to apply for research analyst or research coordinator roles to further develop my skills before continuing my education. I’ve realized that many, if not all, of the desired experiences and characteristics outlined in job applications have been developed during my time in this program.”

— Jacob Stocks MS’20

 

“I will be pursuing a PhD in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I am thankful to my mentors, supervisors, and colleagues for supporting me in this endeavor.”

— Kelsey Landrum MS’20

 

“Next year I will be doing one of two things: I received a Fulbright to study a master’s of science in global health at National Taiwan University, in Taipei. That’s the plan provided I can go. But with coronavirus, if I can’t go, I’m looking at jobs in the area of global health and public health, as a research analyst.”

— Jessica Marlow, BA’20

 

“After completing [the Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva] program, I just knew that a career in health policy and advocacy would be the right decision for me. This is particularly relevant now with COVID-19 exposing the glaring structural inequities within the US healthcare system.”

— John Bollinger BS’18 MS20

 

“Looking ahead to my future, I now have an interest in pursuing an MPH or an MHA in addition to an MBA, and I could see myself seeking work for an NGO or multinational health organization later in my career.”

—Nicholas Santangelo BA’19 (December)

 

“After graduation, I will be joining a healthcare investment banking group as an analyst in San Francisco, California. My work will be at the intersection of biotechnology/life sciences and finance. Through topics in my global health coursework ranging from drug access to health disparities, DGHI has given me the ability to think about the ‘big picture.’”

— Pranav Ganapathy BA’20

 

“DGHI has prepared me for my future work by offering a plethora of opportunities to be directly engaged with incredible projects. From conducting water and sanitation research in Uganda, to designing a business plan for an upcoming medical device and partnering with an NGO in Durham focused on refugee mental health, I've never felt limited with what I could do.”

—Tiffanny Jiang BS’20

 

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