Campus News

New initiative tackles global health education

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas offered UGA’s spring 2008 graduates a message of hope and wisdom at the May 10 Commencement ceremony in Sanford Stadium.

“Forty-one years ago, when I graduated from high school in Savannah, attending the University of Georgia was not an option,” he said. “Thankfully much has changed in my lifetime. Knowing what I know today, I would go to school here in a heartbeat. Georgia is home, and Georgia is where I belong.

“Monumental events involving constitutional and civil rights have made it possible for me to stand here today when I could not sit there as a college graduate years ago,” said Thomas, the fifth native Georgian to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Deep Shah, the ceremony’s undergraduate speaker, shared a message similar to Thomas’. Recipient of both the Rhodes and Truman scholarships, Shah, who graduated with degrees in genetics and international affairs, spoke about the progress society has made and the privilege of education.

“So much of the world cannot dare to imagine to go through life the way we have, the way that we do and the way the we inevitably will,” he said.

“We can change the fate of those less privileged than us, if we work together,” he also said. “Well-being and providing it to others is a group task. It requires a community like that one we have BHSI Division of Public Health. Once the college was officially established, Phil Williams, public health division chair, moved from the institute to become the college’s founding dean.

“Given this history and the BHSI’s experience facilitating interdisciplinary connections across campus, it seems natural for the College of Public Health and BHSI to work together once more on the new Global Health Initiative,” said Galen, who now chairs the BHSI’s public health division.

In April, the CPH and BHSI hosted the initiative’s first Global Health Symposium. Sessions held during the two-day event addressed global health impacts on society and culture, infectious diseases, nutrition and environmental health.

The BHSI introduced a new category of membership at the symposium honoring UGA’s international collaborators. Nguyen Huy Quang and Phan Van Tien from the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam and Manuel Aguilar-Villalobos from the Environmental Air Association in Lima, Peru, were the first to receive certificates from Harry Dailey, BHSI director, designating them as BHSI Global Partners.

In 2006 and 2007, Quang and Tien arranged and hosted the CPH’s May term programs in Vietnam. Aguilar-Villalobos collaborates with UGA environmental health scientist Luke Naeher on studies examining residential, community and street-level air pollution in Peru.

The results of a series of in-person and online student interest surveys launched in fall 2007 and spring 2008 also were shared with attendees. Conducted by M.P.H students Will Childers and Elizabeth Holcomb, the surveys revealed a high level of interest in the creation of global health courses and programs at UGA.