Katie is a second year Epidemiology MPH student with a concentration in Global Health. Katie completed her practicum in western Kenya and was working with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) on a One Health program. The program focuses on the connection between human and livestock health within rural communities in western Kenya and offers free medical care for families and their livestock in the study. Katie was fortunate enough to be awarded the Douglas Passaro Scholarship which helped fund her practicum opportunity.
What about the Global Health Concentration at UIC made its greatest impact on you?
The connections that I have made while at UIC are some which I hope to maintain throughout my future career. Many professors have extensive global health experience and are more than willing to mentor students and help navigate the program. Learning about the work that professors at UIC have accomplished abroad is both inspiring and humbling, and I hope to apply everything I have learned from them throughout my career.
In what ways did you prepare for your global practicum?
I think the most important preparation I did was to talk with second year students who had also gone abroad for their practicum. The were very honest about what to expect (and what not to expect). Learning as much as I could about the project and culture beforehand was also very helpful.
What was the most valuable thing you learned through your global professional experience?
Learning how to adapt in different settings and be resourceful when in the field was a great learning experience for me. However, I think the most important thing I learned was the importance of clear communication and expectations when working with projects both abroad and here in the U.S.
How did this experience prepare you for work in public health?
I learned a lot about project implementation and working in a developing country. Working with livestock in rural Kenya offered invaluable insight into the importance of One Health and the major obstacles faced.
How did your perspectives or worldview change as a result of this experience?
My experience abroad allowed me to take a step back from the classroom setting of global health and apply what I had learned in real life. Until I was able to apply my knowledge and witness what we had learned about first hand, I did not have a full grasp of the challenges of international public health work.
In what ways did this experience enhance or change your career goals?
My experience abroad solidified my desire to work on One Health projects in developing countries. I plan to use this experience to tailor my veterinary career and maintain a strong interest in global One Health experiences.
What advice would you give to current global health students?
When searching for a practicum, be sure to keep your options open and start early. Utilize the connections that UIC has to offer to find an opportunity that fits you. While abroad, remain flexible and adaptive. Few practicums go as smoothly as planned, but remember to get the most out of your time abroad- it goes faster than you think!