GlobeMed presents IMPACT, 2nd Annual Art Gala

By Rachel Goldstein ’13
University Communications

What is your impact on the local community? How do your actions impact the world? GlobeMed, an undergraduate organization at the University of Rochester, asks these salient questions of the Rochester community with its second annual art gala, IMPACT.

The public exhibition, presenting juried artwork for viewing and for sale, will be held at the Art Museum of Rochester, 610 Monroe Ave. on December 6 with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests can expect a showcase of Rochester talent–great art, musical entertainment, refreshments, a raffle featuring products from local businesses, as well as an opportunity to learn more about what GlobeMed does abroad and in Rochester. There is a suggested five dollar donation.

The gala is part of an on-going fundraising campaign for GlobeMed’s partnering organization, Kallpa Iquitos, a grassroots nonprofit aiming to empower youth and enhance opportunities through youth development projects in Iquitos, Peru.

“We want our fundraisers to reflect the values of our partner while also engaging the Rochester community–not just UR students, but the community at large,” says Art Gala co-coordinator, Alysha Alani ’15. The gala was pioneered last year as a way to tie Kallpa Iquitos into the local picture. “They use art as a public messaging forum,” explains Alani, “a way to promote healthy lifestyles and empower the community.”

GlobeMed, a group that addresses health equity and social justice, has partnered with Kallpa Iquitos since 2010 when founders Anupa Gewali ’12 and Rohini Bhatia ’13 applied to be a chapter. Part of a national organization comprised of 55 groups in total, the GlobeMed chapter at the University is working to achieve global health equity through local efforts and long-term partnerships abroad.

Kallpa Iquitos and GlobeMed co-construct a memorandum of understanding, which outlines how much money GlobeMed can commit to raising and how that money will be used. “We believe that Kallpa is an expert on the community they work and live in,” says Alani. “They know best how to sustainably address these self-identified issues and how GlobeMed can best use our resources as University students–not only financially, but time and knowledge–to help.”

Kallpa Iquitos is currently focused on empowering youth to take ownership of their communities through establishing youth centers and facilitating the development of academic enrichment programming, sexual health classes, and employment opportunities, among other projects. They are currently working with nine neighborhoods within the Pampachica area of Iquitos.

Locally, GlobeMed engages in community service and strives to educate the Rochester community about public health issues and disparities. “We cannot turn a blind eye to marginalized communities,” says Alani, “whether they are in our own backyard or 3,000 miles away.”

GlobeMed held their 2nd annual 5K walk in partnership with two Rochester non-profits in October 2013. They are planning their 3rd annual benefit dinner in mid-February, last year’s theme being “Hope in Health: Youth in Action.” Additionally, GlobeMed hopes to organize an educational debate on public health topics for the spring semester. Past events have included a panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act that featured a public health professor, physician, theologian, and economist, as well as a debate on cultural relativism and family planning co-sponsored by the debate team.

“I especially value the educational curriculum that GlobeMed incorporates,” Alani explains, “topics such as why health is a human right, the history of global health efforts, and models of foreign aid. It is rare to find a group of students as passionate and willing to learn.”

Alani attended two GlobeMed conferences in the past year–one regional and one national–that bring together university chapters and GlobeMed alumni. They were a reminder of the immense tasks at hand, but also the small changes that can go a long way.

“I am continually proud and impressed,” Alani states, “with what a group of undergraduates can do when we put our minds to it.”

For more information about the gala, visit urglobemedartgala.tumblr.com, e-mail at urglobemedartgala@gmail.com, or see the event Facebook page

 

 

Summer Plans Series: Exploring Public Health in Chile

By Rei Ramos ’15
University Communications

This summer, Anjalene Whittier ’14 spent a month in Punta Arenas, Chile as a part of a public health traineeship. During her stay, she worked on two different projects involving caffeine consumption among Peruvian students and the prevalence of obesity among special-needs children in Chile.

Stationed at a rehabilitation center for children in the area, Whittier assisted in collecting patient information for the clinic. Since many of the patients had disabilities, with some confined to wheelchairs, she had to make use of alternative methods of data collection. Instead of using standard scales for weighing clients, measurements like neck circumference were used to obtain information on body fat percentage. Whittier also participated in clinical rotations with doctors, therapists, and educational staff, earning some very valuable first-hand medical experience.

Aside from the experiential benefits of her traineeship, the rising senior is also thankful for the travel opportunity. Having grown up in Rochester, the prospect of international travel was enticing for Whittier. “I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to travel, especially to South America, but I’ve never had the opportunity before. I was especially interested in going to a country where I could improve my Spanish skills,” said Whittier. Even with her busy schedule, she found time to travel to different parts of Chile, spending time in the capital city of Santiago among other sites and enjoying the country’s rich culture.

While much of her research was challenging, Whittier did not mind the extra effort. “I’m very interested in working to improve the lives of children with disabilities/mental illnesses, both domestically and abroad,” she explained. “I couldn’t imagine anything better to do this summer,” said Whittier. “It really ties all of my interests together.”

 

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester spent their summer. Know of someone who did something cool over break? Email The Buzz (thebuzz@rochester.edu) and tell us all about it!

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Meghan Ochal

Ochal
Name: Meghan Ochal ’05

Occupation:  Public Health Analyst

Education : (UR and additional): BA (Anthropology), University of Rochester, 2005; Master of Public Health, University at Albany, 2007

Current city/state of residence: Washington, DC

Community activities: Volunteer with US partner of grassroots community health organization in Chile (Educacion Popular en Salud)


When and how did you choose your major? 

I started as a pre-med/biology major, but when I took a medical anthropology course my sophomore year, I realized that I was much more interested in the social and political aspects of health, versus the more scientific side.  The more anthropology courses I took, the more I realized it was what I wanted to study (I didn’t yet know I’d go on to a career in public health though!).

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was very involved in various community service groups and activities.  I was involved in Circle K my freshman through senior years, was an Urban Fellow, and did substantive work with the Community Service Network as a student as well as the summer after I graduated.  These experiences only helped to solidify my desire to pursue a career that addressed social and community concerns.  (I also played intramural Ultimate Frisbee all four years! J)

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use? 

I think the Career Center was the a very valuable resource – advisors there helped greatly in helping me find an internship as well as developing solid graduation school applications.  I also think participating in a few of the many student groups/clubs is a great opportunity to explore interests and meet new people.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Without really any short- or long-term plan, I applied to graduate programs in public health (given my interest in medical anthropology) and was fortunate to receive a scholarship to the University at Albany’s School of Public Health.  Since I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I wanted as a career, going to grad school was a smart choice for me that helped me focus my interests and gain experience in a field that I’m incredibly happy to be a part of.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I work for a Federal program that provides grants to community health centers to provide health care to underserved populations, where I specifically support grantees in ensuring they are meeting requirements of the program.  As I was completing my MPH, I was drawn to working in the public sector and was accepted into the Emerging Leaders Program at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and was hired to work with the Health Center Program.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?  

The most valuable skills and knowledge I’ve gained from real-life experience through jobs and internships.  While having the academic coursework is critical, being able to practice using that knowledge is invaluable.

What advice do you have for current students?

I encourage everyone to seek out ‘real-life’ experiences through jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities.  Even if you are mostly filing or answering phones, being able to see how an organization/company functions can give you so much insight as to what you want to pursue as a career and provide practical skills and experiences that future employers or academic institutions will definitely value.

Summer Plans Series: Smoking Cessation in the Foothills of the Himalayas

By Blake Silberberg ‘13
University Communications

This past June, four University of Rochester undergraduate students embarked on a month-long project to help reduce smoking in Leh, India. Led by Nancy Chin, an associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, the group included three majors in the health, behavior, and science program—Luke Slipski ‘13, Alice Gao ‘14, and Anisha Gundewar ’14—along with epidemiology major Lily Martyn ’14.

Leh is a remote, but populous town in the North of India near the Himalayas. Due to the popularity of trekking in the region, the town attracts tourists from all over the world, and as a result it has recently begun to undergo “westernization”, explains Slipski.

“With the tourists comes an increase in tobacco advertising and exposure,” explains Slipski. “High income countries like the U.S. have actually been doing a great job at battling big tobacco companies, so these companies are trying to exploit previously untapped markets in low-income countries. Because developing countries often lack the necessary public health infrastructure to control the epidemic of tobacco addiction, our goal is to help this particular town with its efforts to prevent adolescent tobacco use.”

lehwalkingChin has led three trips to Leh, starting in May 2011, each year taking a small group of students. This year’s project initially planned to check on the progress of an anti-smoking program that had been designed for the town in earlier trips. But arriving in Leh, the group discovered that those public heath initiatives had stalled. “Our new goal was to understand why the intervention didn’t work and what materials or support was needed to make another attempt,” explains Martyn. Another facet of this year’s trip involved training local leaders to conduct focus groups to identify improvements needed in the town’s health infrastructure. The group also shared the findings from a survey conducted last year in the community.

The group worked to rebuild relationships with the community that had faltered over the past year, vising the health department and meeting residents. Ultimately their goal was to generate community support for an anti-tobacco program in Leh’s schools. For Slipski, this was his second trip, and he took on additional responsibilities as team coordinator, working to organize meetings with community leaders, teachers, and students in Leh.

“Working in Leh is unique. They have an incredible existing infrastructure for community activism and collaboration between local organizations,” explains Slipski, “Other rural towns that we’ve visited certainly have a sense of community largely unseen in the U.S., but I think the support system between organizations in Leh and the collaboration between them is something special. Last year we got there and they were having an oratory competition for the local schools,” Slipski recounts.“ Students spoke about how detrimental pollution has been to Leh’s ecology. After the competition, they had a march through the main street in town to raise awareness.”

lehlilyBoth Martyn and Slipski describe the trip as a fantastic experience. “I loved working in the field on a project where I was able to translate my scholarly knowledge into action and intervention,” explains Martyn. “I find that hands on learning is the best way to get a full understanding of what you are taught. I am grateful I got the opportunity to go.”

Adds Slipski: “With a small group, we got loads of quality time with Chin, a highly trained field worker, to learn how the full process works. We do readings and have discussions before departure, and we continue to discuss and critique our work the entire time. We’re working with real communities and vulnerable populations, so she is careful to teach students how to make that relationship mutually beneficial. Her motto is ‘we never inflict the unprepared on the unsuspecting,’ and after two summers with her, I’m confident that her students never will.”

For those interested in reading more about the project, Luke Slipski maintained a blog during his time in Leh.

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz (thebuzz@rochester.edu) and tell us all about it!

lehsteps

Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Joy Getnick

jgetnickName:  Joy Getnick

UR Major:  History

Other UR Majors/Minors: Health and Society, Judaic Studies

Additional Education: PhD in History, Certificate in Core Public Health Concepts

Current City, State of Residence: Rochester, NY

Job Title: Jewish Program Director; Adjunct Lecturer

Employer: Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester; SUNY Geneseo

Community Activities: My JCC job encompasses many of my community activities.  I’m also active in my synagogue’s youth committee.


How did you choose your major(s)?

I’ve always really liked history.  I was particularly drawn to the variety of upper-level courses offered by the UR History Department.  I began to realize that history could be a career.  The final decision factor was the availability of courses in the history of medicine and public health.  These courses, and the guidance of Professor Ted Brown, enabled me to transition from a career path focused on the practice of medicine or public health to one focused on the history of medicine and public health.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

I have not continued my relationships with my undergraduate advisor.  They are there for undergraduates, not for me.  Take advantage of those relationships while you can.  They won’t be there when you’re gone.

What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation? 

I went to graduate school right after graduating and, for me, it was absolutely the right decision.  I knew that I wanted to pursue a doctoral degree in history, and more importantly I knew in what fields I wanted to specialize.  This enabled me to pick a doctoral program that was the right match for me.  However, I think some of my peers may have benefited from more work experience.  My recommendation: go to graduate school right after undergrad if you either a) know what you want, or b) know that if you don’t go right away you’ll never go back.  Otherwise work, and then go to grad school when you really know what you want to do.

What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying history?

You have to do this for you.  There are not an abundance of jobs in the field, even with a PhD.  You study history because it makes you a more educated, informed, complete citizen of the world.  That knowledge, and the writing skills acquired along way, will go with you wherever you go.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?

I work as the Jewish Program Director at the JCC of Greater Rochester.  I absolutely love it.  Although technically a PhD in History is certainly not required, my education comes with me, and influences all that I do.  I also work as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Geneseo.  I am fortunate to be able to work at such a great institution, teaching in my field.  In five years I hope to be exactly where I am now, just wiser, more experienced, and more skilled.

Undergrad Research Recognized at National Conference

By Dan Wang ’14
Univ. Communications

In the last week of January, four Rochester undergraduates traveled to Harvard University to give a presentation at the National College Research Conference. The four participants created posters of their research and presented to panels of judges. Student Anaise Williams ’13 took home an Award of Excellence, the second place prize awarded to five out of 250 student presenters and is the top prize for the social sciences.

“I examined how rural low-income pregnant women in Northeastern Thailand negotiate traditional beliefs of prenatal precaution and biomedical prenatal recommendation. I really wanted to figure out how pregnancy is culturally scripted. How do people decide between listening to their moms and doctors?” says Williams, winner of the Award of Excellence.

This is a natural topic for someone who majors in anthropology with a focus on public health and has an interest in Asian culture. Williams conducted her research as she studied abroad in Thailand last spring. By taking part in the CIEE Development and Globalization Program arranged through Rochester’s Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, Williams conducted interviews with Thai women to determine how they reconciled traditional and modern views of pregnancy.

“This is an interesting way to investigate how global forms of information are understood at the local level,” Williams explains. “The project adds to the anthropological discussion of how to make biomedical globalization more culturally conscious.” She concludes that the women have a Western and traditional hybrid view of pregnancy in which they have autonomy over their bodies and incorporate traditional Thai views of pregnancy. Her extensive fieldwork interviewing pregnant women through translators gave her a nuanced view of the topic.

Alisa-Johnson-'14-and-URMC-Research-Mentor-Dr.-S-VijayakumarAlong with fellow undergraduates Alisa Johnson ‘14, Siddhi Shah ‘14, and Shilpa Topudurti ‘14, Williams attended the three-day conference with 250 students from around the country. Through funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research and various academic departments, the students were able to present their research to peers and students. They also were able to listen to professors discuss their own work; lecturers this year included development economist Jeffrey Sachs and psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker.

“I learned a lot from the keynote speakers and was exposed to a variety of topics from fellow presenters from all over the country,” says Alisa Johnson. “It was a great opportunity to connect and network with other students who share a similar interest in research at the undergraduate level.”

Johnson, Shah, and Topudurti are biology majors who presented on topics ranging from kidney disease to melanoma progression.

Shilpa-Topudurti-'14These four participants condensed their findings into 15-minute presentations and a poster board. Each gave a presentation to panels of judges that included professors and their fellow peers. A second, more formal presentation determined the prizes.

The Award of Excellence prize comes as a capstone for an already accomplished academic career. Outside of her major in anthropology Williams is president of the Undergraduate Anthropology Council; a coordinator at GlobeMed; and a tutor for 5th grade students at School 29, an elementary school in the 19th Ward. And she sees her project going still further; Williams is working on fellowships that will allow her to study maternal health in Asia next year.

NCRC-2013-participants

In the Photos: First: Anaise Williams ’13 and Siddhi Shah ’14 at the National College Research Conference.  Second: Alisa Johnson ’14 and URMC Research Mentor Dr. S. Vijayakumar discuss Johnson’s research with conference participants. Third: Shilpa Topudurti ’14 presents her research during the conference. Fourth: Held at Harvard, nearly 250 students from around the country attended the National College Research Conference.  All photos courtesy of Alisa Johnson.

Students Research Tobacco Use, Putting Theory into Practice

Univ. Communications – According to a 2011 World Health Organization report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, India is poised to lose more lives to smoking in the next generation than any other country. This startling statistic has inspired three UR students—Karishma Dara, Emma Caldwell, and Anupa Gewali—to travel to a Ladakh, a remote region in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, to research patterns of tobacco use among youth. The goal of their research has been to provide the community in Ladakh with data about its tobacco use in order to help design intervention strategies and quitting resources.

Dara ’12, an anthropology major, Caldwell ’13, an environmental studies and public health major, and Gewali ’12, also a public health major, all took a seminar with Professor Nancy Chin last year, exploring the landscape of tobacco use in countries such as the Dominican Republic. Chin had previously done research in Ladakh and wanted to go back; this past August, Chin brought the three undergraduates and a graduate student to the region, and they set out to explore the community’s relationship to tobacco.

“We had an idea of what our skills were and what our interests were but we kind of left it to the community to tell us what they needed from us,” said Gewali. Their starting point was the health department in Leh, the largest city and capital of Ladakh. The students offered their knowledge and qualitative research skills and since the health department was very concerned about tobacco use by school children, they were asked to focus their research energies on that topic.

“We specifically looked at gender roles and how they impact youth tobacco use,” said Caldwell. Traditionally, in this isolated, mountainous, desert region of India smoking was designated as a male-only activity. The majority of the population is either Buddhist or Muslim and in the contexts of both religious communities smoking is viewed negatively, especially for women. However, the onset of globalization and the explosion of tourism in Ladakh since the 1970’s have made smoking a sudden and ubiquitous presence in the public sphere.

At the center of the students’ project were interviews with adolescent smokers themselves as well as communication with organizations who are concerned by the rise of smoking and its glamorization. They focused on the effect of tobacco use on adolescent girls who often perceive smoking as “a symbol of freedom,” Dara explained.

Though there are laws against smoking in public, they are not enforced and many people do not know about them. Since Ladakh has thrived from the influx of European tourism, and since many tourists smoke themselves, the locals shy away from imposing regulations that could negatively impact a major source of revenue. This further exacerbates the problem of smoking among young people.

The students found that if Ladakh continues on the same trend, in the next ten years the amount of females smoking is going to rapidly increase. They were alarmed to interview children as young as eleven and twelve years of age who had “no idea how to quit,” Cladwell said.

Though smoking is on the rise throughout India, in bigger cities and more populous regions there are more prevention and quitting resources to counteract the proliferation of smoking.  But, in Ladakh, as Gewali explained, “There were so many times when we would be interviewing ten, thirteen-year-old boys and they’d be like ‘wait, there’s a way to quit smoking?’  It’s literally a new concept.”

The students hope that the data they collected and presented back to community organization will be a vital tool to devise intervention strategies and establish quitting resources.  However, this project is just getting started and though it will eventually become a self-sustaining community health program coordinated independently by Ladakhis, in the next few years the students hope to continue assisting this community and bring more UR students to participate in the effort.

After all, the experience was not only important in helping a community struggling with a public health crisis, but it also provided an invaluable opportunity for the students themselves to grow as researchers. Dara, Caldwell, and Gewali are now working on submitting their findings for publication and applying to participate in conferences.

“We’re really eager to talk to people about this because it’s such an important opportunity. It’s really important that it keeps going not just because this community has been started on this track of intervention, but we’ve identified a really big need and we found that it can really benefit students here to have this experience,” Gewali said.

Dara stressed the importance of the application of the theories and methods social science students learn in Rochester classrooms.  Merely learning these approaches is not enough to create a realistic idea about field work and data collection. The students practiced interview skills for months with one another and in the city of Rochester, but nothing could adequately prepare them for their encounters with the community in Ladakh. “When you’re just having a conversation with a kid about why he started smoking it’s so different and it’s so much more powerful,” said Dara.

The University of Rochester name was connected with all of the students’ activities and the community in Ladakh now sees that the University is devoted to this project. The students are hoping that these sorts of engagements between the University and the world will continue and multiply.

“Hopefully the school will see that we benefited so much from this, we’re so passionate about it, that they will make more of an effort to give these opportunities to the undergraduate population,” Cladwell concluded.

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia (www.out-of-russia.com) and the other to photography (www.myorientalism.com).

Photo courtesy of Anupa Gewali ’12.