Leaders and staff from RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, addressed students, faculty and staff from the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health on March 2 during the school’s PHield Trip. The annual event immerses students in the work of public health partners throughout the region.
Wendee Wechsberg, PhD, director of the RTI Global Gender Center and Substance Use, Gender and Applied Research — who is also an adjunct professor at the Gillings School — delivered the keynote address. She highlighted the importance of working with students, developing strong, diverse teams and supporting the next generation of passionate researchers.
“Many members of our current team started as interns from Gillings and are now successfully addressing gender issues in health,” said Wechsberg. “Today’s students are the next generation of problem solvers, and we need them.”
RTI’s University Collaboration Office (UCO) hosted the program, welcoming 75 Gillings students and administrators. This visit marks the first time since 2019 that RTI has hosted the program in-person.
“We were so energized to be able to come together again — offline! — for the PHield Trip,” said Elizabeth French, MA, associate dean for strategic initiatives at the Gillings School. “It’s inspiring to hear about the many opportunities our students have to learn from RTI researchers, and to witness the exciting career paths they can pursue with RTI International.”
Participants also heard from second-year Master of Public Health student Maggie Rothenberg, who is a RTI health research analyst intern and the 2022 RTI Mentee of the Year. Rothenberg provided insight into her experiences as an intern, encouraging students to explore, communicate and build networks during their own internships and work experiences. She also highlighted connections between Gillings and RTI, including shared values around addressing systemic inequities and injustice, building capacity for individual transformation and learning, and emphasizing the importance of well-being and self-care.
The UCO at RTI International leads strategic collaborative initiatives such as the Initiative to Maximize Partnerships and Catalyze Teamwork and the University Scholars Program, which has brought distinguished former and current Gillings faculty to RTI to work with experts in RTI’s practice areas. The UCO also runs a robust internship program that counts many Gillings students and graduates among its alumni.