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Recently, I had a great conversation with Dave Reidel and Torri Ross, Midd alums from the Class of 1998. They will soon leave for Ghana for a two-year stint with the HIV/AIDS programs funded by PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). After graduation, Dave went to medical school at Penn State, completed a residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, and then completed a fellowship in infectious diseases at University of Maryland. An HIV/AIDS expert, Dave has pursued several research projects in India, Singapore, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, and Rwanda. Not to be upstaged, Torri earned an MPH at Tulane and then spent two years in the Peace Corps as a community health volunteer in Nepal. She returned to the US and settled at Johns Hopkins for the next five years and did research in women’s health with one study based in Ghana. Torri then completed an RN in nursing, and for the past year has worked as a nurse at the University of Maryland. Oh yeah, at some point in their peripatetic lives they managed to get married.

Torri and Dave’s passionate interest in global health is shared by many other Midd alums. UCLA Assistant Professor Annie Rimoin is investigating the emergence of monkeypox as a human disease in Africa. Rick Hodes has dedicated much of his professional life to caring for patients in Ethiopia, and has formed an international network of surgeons that perform corrective surgery on Ethiopian children. As the president of Save the Children, Charlie MacCormack leads an organization that is respected around the world.

I would like to hear from others in the Middlebury community who are working in global health. Write back with your stories and we will begin to build an alumni network as a resource for current students. Why would such a resource be useful? Well, so far this year, four students are busy designing majors in global health and development though our independent scholar program. A fifth proposal is already in committee review. These students are mining our curriculum for courses in global health and development and have created a solid foundation. Summer internships in global health would enhance the meaning and significance of this academic work, and so I am eager to know of off-campus opportunities that I can share with interested students.

I would also like to know whether there is interest out there in formalizing these curricular interests in global health. By assembling the right combination of courses in sociology and anthropology, political science, economics, foreign languages, and the sciences, along with unique opportunities to pursue internships in global health, perhaps through study abroad, we could create a minor in global health. Is this a good idea? Post a comment and let us know.

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    We should all share a passion for global health that Mr. Spears speaks of in his article. And while I commend the efforts of those named in the article–they surely deserve praise–I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the fact that we need not go far to see the lacking of readily available up-to-date medical care in America’s own backyard: There is a long-ongoing epidemic of a disparity in public health care between the minorities and the rest of our population. Such a public health disparity is a real and growing problem. It is why I have dedicated my life towards the cause of advocating for the reform of public health care of African Americans. We should all come to take care of our immediate neighbors and work our way outwards towards helping others.

    Patricia Konarski, MPH
    African American Public Health Advocate
    Clark Atlanta University (CAU) 2002
    University of Arizona (UA), Master of Public Health Graduate 2006
    Helping Raise the Bar of Public Health of African Americans
    Remember: Health is Your Wealth!
    Tucson, Arizona

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