The Program in Global Health Studies welcomed back five alumni for a panel discussion to discuss their post-graduation experiences on Thursday, May 19.
“This year, we have one of our biggest graduating classes of minors. We’re in the early stages of developing plans for an adjunct major in global health. In addition, there’s an ongoing conversation with our colleagues in the graduate school about a dual-degree program,” said William Leonard, Co-Director of the Program in Global Health Studies. “The tremendous growth in the global health program reflects on the extraordinary efforts of all our alumni.”
The panel featured Sophia Blachman-Biatch (WCAS ’13), Isabel Garcia (SESP ’15), Divya Mallampati (WCAS ’09), Emery Alden Mathieson (WCAS ’11), and Gene Schwartz (WCAS ’08).
These alumni all embarked on different paths after graduating Northwestern. Blachman-Biatch pursued public relations in San Francisco, Garcia became a fellow of the Princeton in Latin America Program, Mathieson obtained a master’s in public health. Both Mallampati and Schwartz attended medical school.
“Sometimes the real meaning of being a doctor gets lost in the rigorous academics of college and medical school requirements,” said Schwartz. “The Global Health minor reminded me why I want to do this and challenged me to think outside the box.”
Schwartz is currently an internal medicine hospitalist physician at Echo Locum Tenens, an affiliate of Sounds Physicians. He is also a candidate for a Master of Science in Clinical and Translational Research.
While Schwartz completed his residency last year, Mallampati just began her OB/GYN residency at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University.
After graduation, Mallampati extended her work in anthropology through a Fullbright Fellowship. Then, she obtained her Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health at Harvard University.
“The study abroad component of the minor really makes you take into account the cultural and social factors that influence how primary care is provided. Also, it was an introspective experience for me. My learning from that abroad program has carried me through, even ten years later,” Mallampati said.
Not all global health minors aspire to become practicing physicians. Garcia is currently working in Mexico City at an education policy think tank.
“The minor first exposed me to the idea of being a culturally-competent provider, which was incredibly important to learn before moving to Mexico. It taught me to see people as people, not as subjects or patients. Working with dialogue-based learning was the biggest takeaway for me,” Garcia said.
Like Garcia, Blachman-Biatch did not take the route to medical school. She fused her studies in Integrated Marketing Communications, Psychology, and Global Health into a public relations career in San Francisco. Realizing that agency life is not for her, she is now working at Xerox Community Health Solutions as a Project Analyst in Client Services.
“The creativity and diversity of how health plays a role in today’s society has been instrumental in what I’ve been able to accomplish so far in my career,” said Blachman-Biatch.
Mathieson continued his global health education after Northwestern by obtaining a Master of Public Health at Emory University with a focus on community health and development.
He has worked for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Services group within Delta Airlines, and Evolent Health.
“In my time as a global health minor, I realized this is my no means a narrowly focused field. There are, truly, boundless opportunities.”
The five panelists agreed that global health is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field that opens doors to divergent paths. And seeing these divergent paths come to life through the experiences of alumni was incredibly inspiring.