Sara Test is a 2011 MPH graduate. She was in the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology program as well as the Global Health Concentration.
Where are you currently employed and what is your position?
Public Affairs Specialist, CDC Kenya
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 prepared me to broadly identify and apply community health prevention and intervention models and learn from successes and failures of past large scale programs.
What about the Global Health concentration at UIC made its greatest impact on you?
The opportunity to learn from peers – whether Fogarty Fellows or return Peace Corps volunteers or mid-level professional returning to school – and their wealth of global health experience has influenced my understanding of the field greatly.
What was unique about UIC’s Global Health program?
UIC’s Global Health program offers unique opportunities to collaborate with the School of Medicine and other programs as well as foreign researchers to enrich your understanding of and technical expertise in the field.
What advice would you give to current global health students?
I suggest getting experience abroad designing programs and objectives, conducting assessments, and in monitoring and evaluation. Take coursework and gain practical experience in health policy, nutrition, infectious disease, HIV, maternal and child health, and disaster relief. Get involved in collaborations between the International Emergency Medicine and Health Fellows in the School of Medicine.
Sara was the recipient of a Douglas Passaro Global Horizons Scholarship. She traveled to Kigali, Rwanda during summer 2010 and conducted interviews with youth who are HIV positive in order to gauge sexual risk behaviors and attitudes towards condoms.
In what way did this experience enhance or change your career goals?
My experience working in Rwanda confirmed my desire to work abroad long-term in global health.
What was the most valuable thing you learned through your work funded by the Passaro award?
The experience taught me about the importance of partnerships and garnering local buy-in early on in project development. I also learned to ask questions and listen first before acting.
How did this experience prepare you for work in public health?
During my Global Health practicum, I was able to design a research study, write a proposal to the Rwandan National Ethics Committee, develop a survey instrument and focus group questions, train interviewers, supervise data collection, analyze data, present results to local staff at research forums, and a global health conference, and author a manuscript. Each of these steps built my skill base that makes me better prepared for future global health work.
How did your perspectives or worldview change as a result of this experience?
My field work taught me first-hand the challenges faced by adolescents, particularly young girls, to withstand financial and other pressures to engage in sex. It also increased my understanding of information exchange, particularly in a country where sex and sexual health is not discussed openly.