Meet Hope Neuling

We at Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, interviewed Hope Neuling about her professional experience before Gillings, her work with the Institute of Natural Resources in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, her MPH practicum with the Duke University- University of Cape Town- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ‘mHealth intervention in South Africa’ team, and why she chose Gillings.

Hope Neuling

Hope Neuling

What was your background before enrolling in the MPH program?

Before Gillings, I received my bachelor’s in Anthropology from the University of Virginia (Go Cavaliers!). When I was an undergraduate I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I always thought I wanted to do something in either international education or the nonprofit sector. After college, I had two jobs overseas. First, I moved to South Africa to work as a research intern with an environmental research nonprofit (Institute of Natural Resources) in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. After my contract with the Institute of Natural Resources ended, I worked as a teaching intern at Casablanca American School in Casablanca, Morocco. Oddly enough, my internship at an environmental research NGO helped me figure out that I actually wanted to work in public health. During my time there, I met people who worked in programs like PEPFAR and it inspired me to dive into the field of public health. My research into public health eventually led me here to Gillings!

Can you tell us more about your two internships with an environmental research NGO in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa?

My internship with the Institute of Natural Resources consisted primarily of collecting and analyzing field data among rural subsistence farmers and livestock owners in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces. My job was to conduct interviews with members of various tribes in these provinces about topics like annual local market earnings, number of cattle owned, and personal opinions about the South African national commercial market. I later wrote reports about the field data collected and created presentations displaying my findings for my superiors. My job’s end goal was to assess the earning capacity of subsistence farmers and livestock owners in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces and to figure out how to best integrate these groups into the national commercial marketplace.

Will you tell us more about your interest in global healthcare policy?

To be honest, when I started this program I had no interest in healthcare policy, but after I started taking elective courses in health policy and law I really fell in love with it. I just find the process of creating and implementing policies so interesting and I feel like health policy is the way to go to make a real, lasting impact on whatever group(s) of people you hope to help.

Can you tell us about your MPH practicum?

During my practicum, I worked with the Duke University- University of Cape Town- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ‘mHealth intervention in South Africa’ team to develop ‘MASI Health’, an HIV treatment adherence app aimed at South African adolescents living with HIV. The goal of my practicum was to develop educational content (to be used in MASI Health) that addresses the needs of the target population.

My main practicum products were educational articles and activities that covered topics ranging from sexual health (i.e. HIV, STIs, contraceptives) to medical care (i.e. transitioning from child-based care to adult-based care) to lifestyle tips (i.e. tips on bullying and peer pressure). I completed my practicum products by both generating new content (articles and activities) and by revising and editing (adapting) older articles and activities made by partnering mHealth groups in order to make them suitable for MASI Health.

Overall, I really enjoyed my practicum experience and it made me want to look further into the field of mHealth and its growing possibilities for making a positive, sustainable impact on public health.

What drew you to the Gillings School of Global Public Health?

I was drawn to the Gillings School of Global Public Health because of the work of its faculty and the types of courses available. As I was researching different universities to apply to, I was always impressed by everything I saw about Gillings and it just felt like the right school for me.

What does “global health” mean to you?

To me, ‘global health’ has always been about a group of stakeholders (from different backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, etc.) coming together to work towards a common goal which is to create equitable healthcare access for all people.

What is your dream job?

Good question. I’ll tell you when I figure that out! On a more serious note, over the past year, I have been really drawn towards the legislative side of public health and would probably like to work for a government agency or committee to develop and implement healthcare policies.

What are people often surprised to learn about you?

This has nothing to do with public health, but people are often surprised when they find out how much I love punk rock and heavy metal. Anyone else who is a metal head will be forever in my good graces!