Northwestern sends team to Emory’s Global Health Competition

Five Northwestern University students presented solutions to an international health crisis during this year’s Global Health Case Competition at Emory University’s Global Health Institute in Atlanta.

Drawing teams from both American and international universities, the competition called for participants to offer solutions to fictional health case study.  This year’s scenario was set in post-war Sri Lanka in 2009, said team member Kaushik Seethapathy, an MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management.

“One big challenge was prioritizing the ideas which we felt strongly about,” Seethapathy said.  “The case was open-ended and we came up with a lot of ideas!”

The team’s proposal focused on both short and long-term solutions for the Sri Lankan people, Seethapathy said, which included addressing gaps in the area’s health workforce as well as improving surveillance and business start-up processes.

Northwestern’s Global Health Case Competition team (from left: Kaushik Seethapathy, Melissa Latigo, Chris Miller, Mitra Afshari and Shantanu Jani). Photo courtesy of Mitra Afshari.

Emory staff released the case study information only days before the weekend competition, said Shantanu Jani, a dual degree student at Kellogg and the McCormick School of Engineering.  Each team member then did some individual brainstorming before coming together as a group to discuss ideas, Jani said.

While competition judges did not select the Northwestern team as finalists, they did recognize the group’s achievements.

“The judges congratulated us during a meet and greet later on having done a good job.  They liked our child health brigades idea and appreciated the work we had put in,” said undergraduate student Chris Miller.

The team was composed of students across the university’s individual schools and undergraduate and graduate programs, all with different backgrounds and expertise.

“My favorite part of participating in this competition was learning from my incredible teammates,”said Mitra Afshari, a 4th year MD-MPH student at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “Everyone brought their own unique strengths to the table based on their talents and backgrounds.”

The team brainstormed ideas individually before coming together to discuss as a group. Photo courtesy of Mitra Afshari.

Miller was excited for the opportunity to learn from the experiences and knowledge of the team’s graduate students.

“For instance, by working with Kellogg students, I learned something about how health issues can be managed with business solutions,” he said.

The competition was a significant learning experience for each team member, ranging from presentation skills to group cooperation to eventual careers in global health.

“I hope to be able to address health challenges from a variety of different angles,” said Miller, who aims to get a dual MD/MPH degree in the future.

“From this competition I’ve learned the importance of simplicity and brevity, said Feinberg medical student Melissa Latigo.  “The delivery of an idea may be more important than having a good idea in itself, and if you have an idea, know how you are going to execute it– someone just might ask!”


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