New Global Health Student Advocacy Board Leadership

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The University of Minnesota's Global Health Student Advocacy Board (GHSAB) is an interprofessional global health student group. This committee of student representatives from graduate and professional programs across the Health Sciences works to educate and mobilize the next generation of socially responsible global health professionals.

During the past academic year, GHSAB has cultivated a global health mindset at the University of Minnesota under the leadership of Caroline Sell (School of Public Health & Law School) and Julianne Tieu (College of Pharmacy). The board’s accomplishments included adding 12 new members, attending 6 board meetings, hosting 4 lunch events, and executing two successful electronic campaigns for World Water Day and World Health Day. The Center would like to express our gratitude to this year’s board and to Caroline and Julianne for their guidance and achievements.

To highlight a few of the 2019-2020 accomplishments, Caroline Sell and Julianne Tieu answer a few of our questions.

What were your goals going into your year as a GHSAB Co-Chair?

Julianne Tieu: Our primary goal for the 2019 - 2020 academic year for GHSAB focused on expansion of GHSAB’s presence across the AHC programs, building greater awareness of global health and social responsibility. Caroline and I wanted GHSAB to be a vehicle for people to learn about health-related issues in a global and local context, emphasizing on how connected the world is. We also hoped to celebrate healthcare accomplishments. We strived to show the dedication of various healthcare professionals towards their field in addition to highlighting the innovations that have shaped healthcare today. 

Caroline Sell: When we started the 2019-2020 academic year, we really wanted to have a more consistent presence on campus and in each school’s programs. We wanted to shed light on the roles of each profession in global health, framing global health in a way so that all health professionals could see themselves as a key contributor. We also wanted to bring together all the students and faculty passionate about global health to support each other in a larger community.

What types of activities did you host over the year?

Julianne Tieu: Over the past year, GHSAB has conducted multiple activities such as professional panels, online public health campaigns, networking night, and a movie night. The topics of these events covered numerous topics related to global health such as antimicrobial resistance, mental health, water conservation, etc. These events were held on both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses as we wanted to reach out to more students and faculty members. In addition, each GHSAB board member took turns taking the lead for our events, ensuring each event ran smoothly and effectively. For some events, we collaborated with other student organizations like GHIG and MPSO to nurture interprofessionalism and increase awareness. Altogether, GHSAB has had an amazing year. 

Caroline Sell: We hosted monthly lunch events located on both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. These topics varied greatly in order to showcase the wide variety of issues related to global health. Our board also met monthly to plan these meetings and share updates of global health initiatives going on in each board member’s respective program. We would not be who we are without the great dedication of our board members.

Could you explain any situations where you learned something new or a time where you were able to put your skills to use?

Caroline Sell: The event we held in January was a film screening of a documentary called Lovesick. We had wanted to host this film screening since the beginning of the year when Kumi Smith, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, reached out with the opportunity. This was our first film screening, and we definitely learned a lot about everything from finances like applying for grants to logistics regarding the space and food. We held the event at the Coffman Theater which was fantastic, and we had a really fruitful Q&A discussion following the film with one of the filmmakers. Overall, it took a lot of teamwork and planning, and it was a large collaborative effort that demonstrated that GHSAB really can pull off great events!

What GHSAB activity or initiative gave you the most pride over the last year and why?

Caroline Sell: The lunch event on antimicrobial resistance that we held at the Vet School was really successful—we packed the whole room! In the past, we hadn’t really had the capacity to hold full-scale events on the St. Paul campus, but thanks to our board members who were vet students, we were able to schedule and promote this event. There’s so much of global health that relates to the human-animal-environment connection (also known as One Health), so it was just really exciting to share GHSAB with the students on the St. Paul campus.

Julianne Tieu: The exponential increase in our lunch events was one of our goals for the year and it was great to see it work out as we worked with our fellow board members to create unique, impactful events. It was fun to try to find different ways to run our events, especially changing up the venues such as the St. Paul campus and Coffman Theater. With what we accomplished through this year, we’re proud of GHSAB and we know it will continue to grow in the future. 

While applications for the board every year do not open until Fall semester, new leadership is chosen at the end of Spring semester. This year, the board has elected Jesse Abelson (Medical School) and Paige Palomaki (College of Veterinary Medicine) to lead the 2020-2021 student board. The new GHSAB Co-Chairs answered a few of our questions about their upcoming tenure leading the next generation of global health champions at the University of Minnesota.

What are your goals going into your year as a GHSAB Co-Chair?

Jesse Abelson: My main goal is to bring global health opportunities and knowledge to anyone interested in all the health professional graduate programs. Minnesota is home to so many incredible global health initiatives and bringing these initiatives to local students is my main goal. Another goal of mine is to increase GHSAB’s involvement with the local community, whether by mentoring younger students or volunteering. Finally, as we work to get our new board for the upcoming year, it is my goal to bring on a team of incredibly diverse students from all different backgrounds and experiences.

What types of activities do you plan to host over the year?

Jesse Abelson: Our main activities over the year are monthly lunch lectures, where we invite local experts to speak to students from all the different health professional graduate programs. These lectures are designed to spark ideas relating to global health careers and inform the community about global health work that is being done locally and current “hot-topics” in global health. In addition, I hope we can partner with some local organizations to volunteer to benefit the local communities. For example, last year we had a winter clothes drive where we gathered clothes to donate to a local homeless shelter.

Paige Palomaki: While I would love to continue hosting various lunch-and-learn activities throughout the next school year to bring a variety of students in to learn about important global health topics, I am also interested in creating some events that involve more interaction between various groups of students. I think activities like that will not only allow students to learn about how interdisciplinary work can benefit their understanding of a topic, but this could also be an opportunity for various students to get to know how "the other side" works by actually interacting with and conversing with students from different fields/programs. 

How will the current COVID-19 situation impact GHSAB?

Jesse Abelson: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, including our spring GHSAB plans. Because of COVID-19, we unfortunately had to cancel our Global Health Week, which was due to take place at the end of April. Global Health Week is the largest event we do all year. It consists of five events spread out over the entire week, which coincides with the CGHSR’s Global Health Day. In addition, we had to cancel our final lunch lecture for the semester. We are currently planning on rescheduling Global Health Week for this upcoming fall semester, which will hopefully not be affected by COVID-19. While our plans have been altered, the pandemic has brought to light various global health topics. These will become a focus in our discussions as we begin to address how the COVID-19 situation has changed the world over. 

Why did you want to become a Co-Chair?

Paige Palomaki: I wanted to become a co-chair for GHSAB because I am a strong advocate for interdisciplinary collaboration. As a veterinary student, I am passionate about One Health, and a huge part of true One Health work is effective collaboration between advocates for human, animal and environmental health. I think being part of a group like GHSAB is a special opportunity to work alongside students we may not usually have the opportunity to collaborate within our typical curriculum. The motto of GHSAB is "Global is Local, and Local is Global", and I appreciate working with others who recognize the connections we can make on a global health scale to the health of our local communities. 

Thank you again to the outgoing board for all of your hard work and dedication, and congratulations to everyone that has graduated this month. We look forward to hearing about your future contributions to socially responsible global health initiatives. And thank you to the new board leadership and continuing members that will be carrying on the global health torch for this coming academic year.



Global Health Student Advocacy Board

Learn more about the University of Minnesota's Global Health Student Advocacy Board, an interprofessional global health student group.