Tamara is a 2014 MPH graduate in the Community Health Sciences division and Maternal and Child Health and Global Health Concentrations. She completed her practicum in Kyiv, Ukraine during the summer of 2013. Tamara assisted the UIC SPH dean and faculty in establishing the Global Environmental and Occupational Health Research Consortium (GEOHealth hub). She developed a literature review presenting best-practices in planning international research consortia and assisted in grant reporting elements. Tamara also had the opportunity to develop a research investigation along the theme of energy and health analyzing the association between domestic heat energy use/pollution and birth outcomes in Ukraine.
What about the Global Health Concentration at UIC made its greatest impact on you and how did it prepare you for a global practicum?
I loved the unique structure of our GHC core classes because they weren’t simply traditional lecture-based classes but rather an opportunity to engage in lively discussions. The learning environment was non-judgmental and the discussions generated by our course content helped me learn how to intelligently and passionately participate in discussions with opposing viewpoints on important global health issues.
What was the most valuable thing you learned through your global professional experience?
Flexibility, because not every country follows the same punctual work ethic we are familiar with in the United States, but don’t underestimate an individual’s quality of work or knowledge on the subject matter because of it.
How did this experience prepare you for work in public health?
This experience gave me the opportunity to work closely with high-level stakeholders and prepared me to confidently communicate with a diverse set of audiences including public health peers and superiors.
How did your perspectives or worldview change as a result of this experience?
I gained a new appreciation for the collaborative work and dedication necessary for developing and maintaining international partnerships, and also visiting Ukraine for the first time strengthened ties to my own Ukrainian heritage.
In what way did this experience enhance or change your career goals?
It energized me to pursue similar international collaborations or partnerships in the future and solidified my commitment to the global health and maternal-child health disciplines.
What advice would you give to current global health students?
Before you begin your practicum, prepare a list of objectives you’d like to achieve during your experience and share it with your preceptor so your duties closely match your expectations. However, don’t get discouraged if your objectives start to evolve or deviate from what was initially expected because these may become opportunities for more unique learning experiences.