By: Marcel Foster, 1st Year Global Health
You got into Rollins. Congrats!
And you probably got into a bunch of other schools as well, right? I was in your shoes not too long ago – and had no idea what school I was going to choose. Of course scholarships and a great financial package are important in the decision process so look at what the costs of living are and consider where you want to work once you finish school. But most importantly think about where you want to spend the next two years of your life?
I lived in Philadelphia for six years and didn’t want to spend those two years in Philly or Baltimore. So that helped narrow down my options. I chose Emory! Yes, Rollins is a top-ranking school and yes, it is across the street from the CDC but here are the real reasons that I chose Rollins and Atlanta.
The professors are GREAT!
Kate Winskell helps run an amazing organization called Global Dialogues, which communicates how young people world wide perceive and experience HIV/AIDS along with other pressing adolescents public health issues. She uses film and other forms of media to make the stories of teenagers come to life. Coming from a diverse background in the performing arts and community health development, I was inspired by the fact that I was not the only person with an arts background to go into public health. If I can do something half as impactful as her – that would be sweet!
Patrick Sullivan is the director of PRISM Health and has a long history of work and leadership around HIV at the CDC. He is such an innovative thinker and is at the forefront of research and intervention methods that address stigmatization and mobile phone usage to reduce HIV transmissions.
There are so many professors in the US doing amazing work – but I had to work with people who understood my thinking around spatial analysis, creative engagement (through the arts), and rigorous research methods. When I saw what Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Winskell we’re up to – I knew I was going to attend Rollins. And I work with them both now!
Speak to students and talk about what you’re interested in doing – and find someone who thinks like you, so that you find a program where you are working alongside people who get you.
The Global Health Program
“Global Health” is a new(ish) and kind of vague field, since it has no “hard methods” the way that Epidemiology or Behavioral Health sciences do. There are many global health programs in the country – but Rollins’ appealed to me because of its reach throughout low and middle income countries throughout the world. I found a lot of other schools research emphasized, in some cases unintentionally, in the South Americas or Southeast Asia – whereas the Hubert Department of Global Health has leaders who are experts in regions throughout the world. I think this is particularly important when we’re talking about communicable diseases, because as we know, these diseases don’t carry passports and cross without regard to state boundaries.
The LGBTQ Community
Is huge. Like, really big. So many incredible LGBTQ leaders are in Atlanta and are advocating for the public health practices that informs what we as students and future public health leaders are currently learning about.
I also don’t want to spend all of my time on campus. I want to go out, I want to have friends who can talk about more than odds ratios and I’ve made a lot of great friends outside of Rollins because Atlanta is such a huge and fantastic city.
mHealth, or the usage of mobile phones to implement mobile health programs – is a field that I have been involved with as a community organizer. In Philadelphia, I was running a number of focus groups with LGBTQ adolescents on their usage of mobile phones to connect with other LGBTQ youth in order to decide if developing an app that mobilized safe-sex practices would be useful for this population. In the end we did develop an app it was an awesome accomplishment.
Turns out that Rollins has a phenomenal student association called Rollins mHealth Collaboration – where every two weeks students are exposed to new skills in coding and developing programs. While other public health schools do in fact have mHealth initiatives and programs – I believe that Rollins is the only school that has such a student association that is really looking at the 101 of coding and development.
I hate being cold
Atlanta cold is 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit. I can’t count on one hand the number of days that it hit that temperature. Otherwise, it is usually so warm and so fantastic!!