Heather Drummond is a 2011 MPH graduate. She was in the Community Health Sciences division and the Global Health Concentration.
Where are you currently employed and what is your position?
I work at the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, as part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program. CPPW is an obesity-prevention program sponsored by the CDC that is affiliated with the Cook County Department of Public Health. The grant is looking to prompt policy, systems and environmental change to lower obesity rates in suburban Cook County.
In what way did the education and training you received in the Global Health concentration prepare you for your professional experience?
The global health concentration gave me a better appreciation for the diverse audiences public health programs aim to serve. It also provided a historical context to health around the world, including the complex determinants of health.
What about the Global Health concentration at UIC made its greatest impact on you?
The Global Health concentration at UIC attracts a very diverse group of students, and the resulting discussions both in and out of the classroom enhanced my understanding of public health and fueled a passion to help others around the globe.
What was unique about UIC’s Global Health program?
The neighboring health sciences campus enhances the global health program; sharing the classroom with physicians and other health professional students provided a broader understanding of public health and its impact.
What advice would you give to current global health students?
Take advantage of all opportunities offered to you, and try and obtain global field experience by looking for practicum opportunitiesearly!
Heather traveled to Haiti in March 2011 and worked as part of a team of public health students and physicians at an Internal Displaced Persons camp.
In what way did this experience enhance or change your career goals?
Having the opportunity to visit Haiti was one of the highlights of my time at the School of Public Health. Haiti is a profound example of the complexity of public health on a national scale and the corresponding challenges in assisting others to live healthy, productive lives. Haiti was both heartbreaking and truly inspiring; the people of Haiti are resolutely strong in the face of near-constant despair.
What was the most valuable thing you learned through your work in Haiti?
Haiti showed that providing additional funding to NGOs does not always lead to improved health. Haiti has the highest number of NGOs per capita in the world, yet the consequent weakness of the government and the lack of a formal economy keep the country stifling.
How did this experience prepare you for work in public health?
My experience in Haiti helped me realize that despite the inherent challenges to improving public health, the work being done is important and can make a difference. On a more practical side, my work in Haiti also gave me tangible skills in survey design and qualitative data analysis.