August 10, 2020
For 11 years, students of the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health have turned to global health nonprofit IntraHealth International to gain real-world experience and make an international impact while still in school.
Known as UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellows, these master’s and doctoral students join a 10-week program based at the Chapel Hill office of IntraHealth. Fellows are integrated into the ongoing work of the organization and collaborate substantively with expert staff while receiving guidance from an assigned mentor. They gain practical experience in technical areas, monitoring and evaluation, research and program management — all while applying skills they are building in their degree programs.
To date, there have been 40 UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellows from the Gillings School.
Former fellows’ accomplishments include analyzing data on commercial sex workers in South Sudan; creating a compendium of digital health initiatives to facilitate cross-country sharing; collaborating on a chapter in a book published by the Work Bank and World Health Organization; contributing to e-learning courses; piloting a photo-voice project with an HIV network in Central America; and traveling to Kenya to test field materials.
“The fellows always bring such valuable perspectives to their individual projects and to IntraHealth as a whole,” said Emily Kiser, MPH, a Gillings School alumna who is now a strategy and development officer at IntraHealth. Part of her role is to provide coordination support for the fellowship program. “Each year we look forward to the infusion they bring of enthusiasm and new ideas.”
This global impact has been made possible by a long-term partnership between IntraHealth and the Gillings School’s Research, Innovation and Global Solutions office. In exchange for working at IntraHealth from May through July, the fellows receive a stipend of $5,000.
Peggy Bentley, PhD, Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of nutrition and outgoing associate dean for global health at the Gillings School, described the ongoing relationship as mutually beneficial.
“The UNC-IntraHealth Fellows Program is a jewel in the crown of what Gillings has to offer our students for their practica and research, often leading to outstanding careers in global health,” Bentley shared. “We are thankful for IntraHealth’s support over many years and know this partnership will endure for many years to come.”
Previous fellows have gone on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, develop an app that supports refugee health, and conduct monitoring and evaluation full-time at IntraHealth, among other success stories.
Ellison Henry, a doctoral student of maternal and child health at the Gillings School, recently was awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct thesis research in Tajikistan. She first went to Tajikistan four years ago as a UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellow, and she credits that experience with sparking her dissertation research.
The 2020 summer fellows are Mariana Andreu-Sanz and Morghen Philippi — both master’s students studying global health — and Alix Boisson, a doctoral student of health policy and management with a global health concentration. On July 16, they presented the results of their recent fellowship work.
Andreu-Sanz explored how to gather vital data about increased gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic without doing harm to subjects. Philippi investigated the mystery of why women in eight countries across Africa and Asia are more likely to stop using contraception in December each year. Boisson conducted a deep dive into digital health tools and resources, including IntraHealth’s world-renowned mHero tool.
“This is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience in global health with an organization that is committed to its vision,” shared one former fellow. “Not only was I able to acquire new skills, but I was able to enhance my existing skills.”
“I am proud of the tools I created,” said another program alumnus. “I really think that I was able to produce [something] that will be effective and easy to use.”
In a time when global health experts are needed more than ever, these experiences have the potential to not only enhance public health education, but translate to the improved health and well-being of real people in numerous countries.
Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org.