More Than Medicine: Global Health in Local Contexts

Mary Kate Leloux, pictured, was a student in Global Health in Local Contexts in the fall of 2023. 

Mary Kate Leloux is fond of the phrase, “changing the narrative.” 

Leloux, MPH ‘24, calls the expression her “mantra,” when it comes to public health. For her, it means recognizing the societal, political and economic forces that affect health and wellbeing. It also means fostering conversation and embracing community as a way to optimize health outcomes. 

“My goal with my MPH degree has been to figure out how I can serve my local communities with a global outlook,” said Leloux. “I want to be able to change the narrative for people and create healthier spaces for all people, regardless of their socioeconomic background or any other social determinants of health.” 

Her experience taking Global Health in Local Contexts, a course offered by the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, aligned nicely with her passion for global health. The course will be offered again in fall 2024 on Thursday mornings. 

LeLoux studied in Uganda in 2020 and became interested in health equity. Her time abroad gave her a new perspective on all the factors that play into wellbeing that “have nothing to do with a hospital.” 

She enrolled in Global Health in Local Contexts to study health and wellbeing in a local, community setting. Leloux wanted to learn more about health issues locally and what role she could play in crafting solutions. 

Global Health in Local Contexts explores community healthcare, the social determinants of health and issues of equity and social justice. It also focuses on storytelling as a tool to spread awareness of health disparities and bring communities together. 

The course’s “classroom-less” style was one of the highlights for Leloux. Her favorite session was a trip to Bdote/Fort Snelling State park to learn about Native Americans’ experiences in Minnesota. 

The lesson led Leloux to take an American Indian Environmental Health course offered by the School of Public Health. 

“I would not know what I know about the Twin Cities without this course. My favorite part of the course was being able to get into the community and visit with all of these super knowledgeable people and have them talk about their communities, from their perspectives,” said Leloux. 

Leloux will soon start work at a study abroad program in Uganda as an assistant coordinator. She said her experience in Global Health in Local Contexts will inform her work as she guides university students through cross-cultural relationships and experiences. 

“I would recommend the course to anyone and everyone. This was my favorite course that I took during my whole program,” said Leloux. 

“This course is so much more relevant than many other courses that I found myself wanting to take. Because we're all part of this global village, and we all have to learn how to live together, how to understand one another, how to listen to each other and how to work with each other.”