Master of Public Health Student Tami Hill Returns from West Africa
September 3, 2015
My previous knowledge about writing a resume has been general. I understood that resumes should include an accurate portrayal of one’s skills, experiences and work ethic. Per proper resume length, appearance and pertinent content, I also knew that these portions of resume writing would always be subjective and specific to each career field.
Consequently, knowledge of that subjectivity resulted in building a resume filled with general content – ironically limiting opportunity for potential employers to glean my skills, experiences and work ethic. That general content was the main area of critique in the “Build Your Best Global Health Resume” Google Hangout hosted by the Global Health Fellows Program II. Thanks to the advice from GHFP-II’s career and recruitment experts, my knowledge of resume building has since changed regarding the level of detail used when discussing my roles and responsibilities. From now on, I intend to discuss my roles with greater confidence – speaking with authority over my educational and professional experiences.
I am currently a 2nd year Master of Public Health student at Drexel University scheduled to complete my graduate degree program June 2016. I have benefited from my school’s program and opportunities to travel. This summer, I was fortunate to visit Senegal and the Gambia, West Africa, with professors and colleagues. This experience strengthened my cultural competence – both reinforcing and changing aspects of my understanding of health. The integration of the Gambian healthcare system is brilliant and innovative. Although such integration is a result of insufficient resources and limited healthcare workers, it is worth noting that poverty lent its hand to ingenuity. By using lower cost approaches to medicine, such as local health care workers, community clinics, and traditional medicine, the people of the Gambia have been able to resourcefully care for their population. Providing efficient and low cost health care is an accomplishment that the U.S. healthcare system continues to struggle with despite its financial resources. On the other hand, the Gambia may not have the same monetary wealth, yet it is rich with skillful, passionate and knowledgeable healthcare workers entirely committed to maximizing care and protecting the health of their communities.
In many ways, my understanding of health and wellness changed when I delved into the culture. For example, The Gambian lifestyle is rooted in fresh foods, produce and physical activity. Before experiencing the culture in The Gambia, I viewed healthy eating and living as a privilege and, quite frankly, a tedious effort. The two weeks I spent in The Gambia permanently shifted that perspective. I now incorporate simple healthy recipes and fresh fruit into my diet and I focus on making exercise fun by centering it on group bonding through recreational sports.
My advice to students interested in global health is to begin the work now. Work to unlearn the privileged and offensively superior vantage point that Americans often view other cultures and countries (especially countries in Africa). Cease viewing such countries with sympathy and pity. Instead, work to view the positive aspects of the country by respectfully learning about the culture. Humanize the people of the country and seek to learn from their perspective. Always defer to the people of the country or community, for such deference is integral to connectivity and cultural competence as global health, public health and health professionals.
Tami Hill is a Master of Public Health Student at Drexel University who recently returned from a global health experience in Senegal and The Gambia, West Africa. Tami is interested in addressing and reducing health disparities, particularly those that impact African American women and girls in marginalized communities. Tami is concentrating in Health Management and Policy and her ultimate career goal is to become an obstetrician/gynecologist.