Perseverance is incredibly valuable – Global Health Alumni Interview with Caitlin Callahan (WCAS 2012)

CaitlinCallahanCaitlin Callahan (WCAS 2012)
Major: Political Science, International Studies
Minor: Global Health

Caitlin Callahan, Global Health alumna ’12, is a Global Health Corps fellow at Public Health Solutions in New York City.  Public Health Solutions has programs addressing maternal and child health, nutrition, access to health insurance, HIV prevention and care, and smoking cessation. The organization also provides capacity building services to public health government agencies and nonprofits.

What did you do after graduation and where are you now?

Upon graduating in June 2012, I immediately began my position as a GHC fellow in July at our two-week Yale orientation. It was a very quick turn-around, but I was excited to begin working so soon after graduation.

How did your global health studies at NU influence your career choice?

I originally began my undergrad career as a pre-med student, but quickly changed courses to a more policy-oriented, rights-based approach during my sophomore year. The courses I took as a global health minor changed my understanding of the multi-dimensional factors that contribute to public health issues. With this inter-disciplinary background, I was motivated to contribute more directly to this field- to find solutions, to initiate change, and to work towards global health equity.

Where did you study abroad?

I was fortunate to study abroad with the IPD Public Health program in Paris. This program, in collaboration with Sciences Po, transformed the way I thought about policy work and public health modeling. It was one of the first times I studied with students of different cultural and personal views, which allowed me to create an entirely new understanding of how health care systems should function, as well as the dramatic role politics plays in their design and implementation.

Do you have any advice or suggestions for current global health students on how to get involved or how to choose their career path in global health?

Take as many classes as you can! Global Health Studies offers such a diverse range of classes in terms of topic and region; I learned the value of that academic variety my senior year and only wish I had had more time! Similarly, start brainstorming your summer plans early- internships, research experiences, and fellowships expose you to the realities of working in the global health field and allow you to apply and develop those skills you learn about in the classroom. As an upperclassman, I was also fortunate enough to create strong relationships with professors through research projects and independent studies. Those professors helped me identify many post-graduation opportunities; they were amazing mentors, and I encourage students to connect with professors directly- they are more than willing to help!

What’s one life lesson that you have learned since you started working?

Perseverance is incredibly valuable. Tackling the world’s economic and social issues is not an easy task; it’s important to stay grounded and consider the big-picture. If not, it’s easy to become discouraged by the day-to-day and slow progress that your work may entail. Your contribution to this work is critical, and it’s important to remember your motivation for choosing this field in the first place!

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