Q&A with Morghen Philippi, MPH Student
Naya Villarreal, MPH, Gillings Global Health Associate Director in Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, interviewed Morghen Philippi about her journey in global health and plans for the future.
What was your background before enrolling in the MPH program at Gillings?
Before enrolling in the MPH program at Gillings, I spent most of my time in midwifery and clinical spaces. I worked as a doula and midwifery assistant in St. Paul, Minnesota before moving to Toliara, Madagascar to engage in global solidarity and accompaniment. There, I learned from and with the midwives at SALFA clinic. My time in Madagascar pushed me to think about a lot of public health questions, and I diverted from getting my Doctor of Nursing Practice in Nurse Midwifery to getting my MPH at Gillings. Between returning to the U.S. and moving to North Carolina, I worked as a patient care associate and medical scribe in a functional medicine clinic devoted to unearthing root causes of illness and disease – especially chronic illness and autoimmunity – and utilizing holistic approaches to health and wellness.
Why did you choose to get your MPH at Gillings?
When choosing a school, I started by looking for a top-notch Global Health program. Gillings has long offered an outstanding education, and I am a member of the first MPH in Global Health cohort. Gillings also fosters an overwhelming number of global partnerships. However, the Gillings community most influenced my decision. People at Gillings care about one another. I experienced the generosity, investment, and care of the Gillings community as a prospective student, and those same community qualities have continued to amaze me throughout my two years at Gillings.
What does “global health” mean to you?
Global health is a recognition of global interconnection. In the words of Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia, I believe our liberations are “bound up” in one another. There will only be justice when there is justice for all. There will only be health when there is health for all. There will only be wholeness when there is wholeness for all. Global health is any form of collaboration across diverse bodies, institutions, peoples, and communities which recognizes the interconnectedness of the world and aims to allow genuine wellness for all peoples and places.
What has been a highlight of your time at Gillings?
I am currently enrolled in Liz Chen and Vichi Jagannathan’s Design Thinking for the Public Good course. This course has rocked my world and been a highlight of my time at Gillings. With the help of their TA, Emily Skywark, Liz and Vichi have created a brilliant class which demonstrates the power of Design Thinking across disciplines. Each week, we engage in applied Design Thinking work with students from diverse backgrounds; we cycle through the processes of inspiration, ideation, and implementation with community partners and real-time problems. The course has pushed me to reconsider my future role in public health and social innovation.
What are your plans for post-graduation?
I just started a job as the Operations Manager at Equiti Foods – a social venture co-founded by Dr. Alice Ammerman, Director at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and professor in the Department of Nutrition at Gillings. As the Operations Manager, I help produce and distribute Good Bowls – locally-sourced, locally-made, nutritious frozen meals. In addition to my work at Equiti Foods, I hope to engage in some more Design Thinking work and play more with my puppy, Luna.
If you had a paid around the world trip, what are five locations you would visit?
Wow! This is a tough question, and the ongoing pandemic could certainly influence my responses. For today (come back and ask again tomorrow), I would start with Toliara, Madagascar to say hello to my friends and loved ones there. Then, I would go to New Zealand for a backpacking trip. Next, I would go to Alaska before heading to Spain. I would end in Kuwait to spend some time with my aunt and cousins.