UNC offers global opportunities for Gillings School students

June 25, 2013
Thirteen students from Gillings School of Global Public Health have been awarded financial support to work and study abroad, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has announced.
UNC’s Center for Global Initiatives presented eight of the awards, which were funded through private gifts to the UNC Global Education Fund and the University.
“These real-life engagement experiences are pivotal for students in our increasingly global world,” said Niklaus Steiner, director of the Center for Global Initiatives. “Completing a global internship, research or study experience internationally gives our students significant advantages in the post-graduation job market.”
  • Marta Mulawa, doctoral candidate in health behavior, received a Pre-Dissertation Travel Award for travel to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to work with research staff on a National Institutes of Health-funded multilevel intervention to reduce HIV risk among networks of men in Tanzania. She will meet with local investigators and explore emerging themes with qualitative researchers interviewing men about their relationships, social networks, current employment situation and aspirations for their future.
  • Rebecca Chávez, master’s degree candidate in health behavior, received an International Internship Award. Chávez will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, to collaborate with a local non-governmental organization, Puente a la Salud Comunitaria. She will promote the health and well-being of poor families in rural communities through the implementation of a community-based nutrition program.
  • Ariana Katz, master’s degree candidate in health behavior, received an International Internship Award for travel to Kumasi, Ghana, as a Summer Fellow with IntraHealth International. Katz will conduct follow-up research and evaluate CapacityPlus’s Bottleneck and Best Buys (BBB) approach aimed at increasing health workforce capacity. She will interview key stakeholders at medical, nursing and midwifery schools, provide recommendations for scale-up potential, support implementation of a school management plan and assist in defining specifications for a medical school’s graduate tracking program.
  • Amy Patel, master’s degree candidate in health behavior, will use her International Internship Award to conduct a comparison study of alternative medicine use among Guanajuatans in central North Carolina and in Guanajuato, Mexico, in partnership with Proyecto Puentes de Salud. The project will examine how migration may affect individual health practices and how this in turn may affect health care service and delivery in central North Carolina.
  • Samantha Tulenko, rising senior, will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to conduct research on arsenic in tube well water at the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh, where she will also prepare a report about improving the current public health interventions for arsenic contamination. Tulenko, an environmental health science major, received a Carolina Undergraduate Health Fellowship.
  • Min Yang, a rising junior in health policy and management, will travel to South China and station at the Guangdong Provincial Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Center to conduct a qualitative evaluation of HIV self-testing programs. Yang, who is double-majoring in mathematics, received a Carolina Undergraduate Health Fellowship.
  • Chris Bernard Agala, doctoral candidate in health policy and management, will travel to Tanzania to intern with the Tanzania Women Research Foundation. His work will involve assessment of self-efficacy of counselors in a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy random controlled trial. Agala received a C.V. Starr Scholarship.
  • Chinelo Okigbo, doctoral candidate in maternal and child health, will travel to Nigeria on a Pre-Dissertation Travel Award to explore the feasibility of conducting a mixed methodology research on the role of social stigma in accessing reproductive health care services in a community in urban Nigeria. Her focus on urban poor women is being driven by the recent focus on the interplay between urbanization, health and economic development.

The University also provided, through private gifts to the College of Arts and Sciences, financial support for 147 undergraduates to study abroad in 2013 and 2014.

Among Gillings School students to receive study-abroad awards were:
  • Kevin Mensah-Biney, a rising senior majoring in nutrition, is studying this summer in England in the Burch Field Research Science Seminar in London. Mensah-Biney received a Jacques Family Honors Study Abroad Scholarship.
  • Susan Gleaves, rising sophomore in nutrition, was selected for the Carolina Southeast Asia Summer Program in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
  • Stefanie Schwemlein, rising senior in environmental health science, will study this fall at the National University of Singapore on the Honors-University Scholars Exchange as a Phillips Ambassador.
  • Rodrigo Martinez, rising junior in environmental health science, is studying this summer in the Burch Field Research Seminar on Sustainability and Environmental Planning in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Martinez received an award from the Honors International Experience Fund.
  • Malhar Patel, a rising senior in environmental health science and chemistry, studied this spring at Mahidol University International College in Salaya, Thailand as a Phillips Ambassador.

More than one-third of UNC undergraduates study in other countries before they graduate – one of the highest study abroad rates among public universities nationwide. The Study Abroad Office in the College offers more than 320 programs in more than 70 countries.

“We are grateful for the private support that makes these opportunities available to Carolina undergraduates,” said Bob Miles, associate dean for study abroad. “Their support provides life-changing experiences for students, helping them become more globally aware.”



Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.