Where Are They Now: DGHI Alumna Shares Global Health Corps Experience

15 01 2013

DGHI alumna Alexa Monroy shares how her time at Duke prepared her for the Global Health Corps experience

By Alexa Monroy

Duke alumna with global health certificate
Global Health Corps Fellow

alexa monroy gh corpsWhen I read the description for the Global Health Corps’ Social Protection and Health Fellowship, it seemed like all my past experiences had suddenly fallen into place. The position was in Washington, DC at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), but I would get to travel often to Central American countries. We would be working on projects to improve maternal and child health markers for vulnerable populations in the region. As someone who was pre-med, interested in global health, and had strong ties to Central America, it seemed like the job had been designed for me.

To my surprise and complete delight, I was chosen as one of the two co-fellows for the position. The first step was to attend a two-week orientation at Yale, where I realized that this year was not only going to help me grow professionally – towards a career that fuses clinical medicine and health policy – but also bring me into an amazing community of people who want to build a “global health movement”. To achieve this, Global Health Corps (GHC) organizes retreats throughout the year that teach fellows to communicate their vision, become better leaders and learn from their peers. So far, both the IDB and GHC have allowed me to understand the day-to-day work of someone who is engaged in both international development and health.

At the IDB, most of my projects are part of an initiative called Salud Mesoamerica 2015 (SM2015). The initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the government of Spain and the Carlos Slim Institute (you can read more about it here: www.sm2015.org). The main goal of the initiative is to assist Central American governments in addressing the maternal and child health issues that they prioritize. I’ve worked on many different projects, like a supply chain analysis in Chiapas, Mexico, and the revision of national guidelines for birth control counseling in Panama. I also co-authored a technical note that encourages regional cooperation to eliminate micronutrient deficiencies in vulnerable populations. All these projects have helped me understand the role of development banks in health planning and financing, and how their work can influence health policy.

My plan right now is to go to medical school next year, so it was important to me to gain experience working for a multi-lateral organization to have a clearer picture of the career I’d like to have. I ultimately see myself working in a policy position and traveling with medical teams to care for patients in low-resource settings and build capacity on the ground. This way I could interact with people and have the tools to cure disease, while also sharing information with key players in global health to put in place health interventions that are effective in the developing world.

Although I went to Duke knowing I wanted to be a doctor, the unique experience of being part of pre-med classes and the Duke Global Health Institute broadened my horizons and helped me carve out a particular niche in the global health field. I always appreciated Duke’s enthusiasm for multi-disciplinary career paths that tackled a real-world problem through innovation and service. If it weren’t for Duke and DGHI, I would never have understood the range and depth of what can be done to improve health around the world, and I would not be having the time of my life as a GHC fellow at the IDB today.

Check out another blog I wrote about my GHC experience. If you’re interested in applying to GHC, do it soon! Applications close February 3 (www.ghcorps.org).

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