Q&A with Thomas Millett, MPH candidate in Global Health, DECIPHeR Alliance Coordinating Center GRA
We at Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, interviewed Thomas Millett about his study abroad experience at the University of Botswana, his work as a graduate research assistant for the DECIPHeR Alliance, and why he chose Gillings.
What was your background before enrolling in the MPH program?
Before coming to Gillings I studied at the University of Florida For all four years I played trombone in the UF Fightin’ Gator Marching Band. I graduated in 2020 with a degree in International Studies and a minor in Health Promotion. After choosing to focus in Global Health, I studied abroad in a community public health program at the University of Botswana.
Can you tell us more about your study abroad experience at the University of Botswana?
I lived on the UB campus in Gaborone for two months where I conducted observational research at local clinics in the surrounding area and in Kanye, a village southwest of the capital. My research centered around health promotion strategies including health literacy, group nutritional education workshops, and clinical waste management. I culminated my findings in a set of recommendations based on the World Health Organization’s health promotion guidelines. I also took classes in Setswana language and culture and community public health and had the opportunity to live in a homestay in Kanye for a week.
Will you tell us more about your work as a graduate research assistant for the DECIPHeR Alliance?
The DECIPHeR Alliance is a national multi-center NIH/NHLBI funded implementation trial with aims to eliminate disparities in heart and lung disease. The project has worked to identify implementation strategies to effectively deliver evidence-based interventions and engage diverse multidisciplinary stakeholders in communities with high burdens of cardiovascular disease. I work for the Research Coordinating Center (RCC) at UNC with Dr. June Stevens and Dr. Kimberly Parker Truesdale where we work to ensure that our research is of high quality and promote collaboration between seven Implementation Research Centers (IRCs). IRCs are hosted at eight universities across the country, including: the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Colorado, Denver; Northwestern University; the University of Illinois at Chicago; Tulane University; New York University; Johns Hopkins University; and the University of Michigan. I have provided coordination and administrative support for the RCC as well as the Alliance Design and Analysis Subcommittee, Publications Subcommittee, and Steering Committee. I have also evaluated research study design and analytic plans, produced a study-wide logic model, and managed correspondence between the RCC, IRCs, and NHLBI. Check out our study website!
What does “global health” mean to you?
To me, global health is about collaboration and equity. We have a responsibility in this field to include local voices in our research and put community perspectives and contributions at the forefront of our work. I also believe in the Gillings philosophy that “global health is local health.”
What drew you to the Gillings School of Global Public Health?
What drew me to Gillings is the diversity of expertise and research of our faculty and the supportive environment that they cultivate for students.
What is your dream job?
My dream job would be a university faculty position in public health where I can conduct global implementation science research and engage with students every day. After graduating from the MPH program in the spring, I would like to pursue a PhD with research interests in measurement of implementation outcomes and designing interventions for dissemination.
What’s your favorite quote or saying and why?
I have several favorite quotes, but one of them that I center in my daily life is “This, too, shall pass.” It is comforting for me to remind myself that everything in life, whether good or bad, is temporary.