Name: Avneet Kaur Bhullar
Year of Study: SNR
Major: Biology Physiology, double minors in Global Health and Anthropology
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Why did you choose to pursue the Minor in Global Health?
I’ve always been fascinated by the history of world-wide health, disease and the issues that arise when global political, social and environmental factors intersect to create or mitigate health. When I was in High School, I had the opportunity to work with Medical Missions for Children and travelled to the Philippines with a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses for 2 weeks to sustainably provide community-based solutions to cleft lip and palate. This was my introduction to global health, where I learned about the facets that influence it: from finances and government support to environment and education. When I arrived at the University of Washington, very much in love with the biology of the body, I jumped at the opportunity to minor in Global Health and apply what I’d learned (and what I’d continue to learn) to the discipline.
How does the Minor compliment your core Major studies?
As a Biology Physiology Major, I spend a lot of my time between studying the interactions of the human body at the cellular, organ and organ system level and how pathogens might disturb its delicate balance. It’s easy to begin thinking of health as solely within these frameworks, but the Global Health minor challenges me to apply this hard science to a global discussion of health and well-being. Why and how are people affected by cholera? How does Cholera spread? What solutions, at the biological, community and governmental level can alleviate its burden? My education in Biology and Global Health has given me the ability to answer these questions in an all-encompassing and holistic way.
What has been most valuable about your global health coursework/learning thus far?
Much of global health, other than understanding the principles of global social determinants of health, is learning the political history behind a country’s ability to care for their population. Through the core curriculum I’ve learned that global health interventions require a profoundly interdisciplinary approach in order to build successful solutions to global health problems. Interventions must be financially sound, community approved and driven, approved by governments and/or organizations, technologically feasible and much more. This reality has pushed me to explore global and public health policy, trying to find ways future physicians can impact the world through medicine, global health and cross-disciplinary work.
What are your professional goals?
I’m a pre-medical student at the University of Washington with hopes of becoming a physician working in global and public health policy. I’m hoping to gain an education in policy or health law before entering medical school to equip myself with the tools to impact positive global change.
Please share your recommendations for prospective and/or current undergraduates on ways in which they may maximize their experience in Global Health (i.e.: events, classes, GH faculty/staff to connect with, etc.)
The first thing I did as a global health minor was attend a public research symposium! These days they are almost all on zoom, and while that does require an internet connection, it may increase our ability to attend them. It was at that first event that I met a graduate student who worked at a lab studying the infection pathways of Group B Streptococcus and the Zika virus. I was so interested in the project that within a few months, I found myself in that same lab applying biology to global health and infectious disease! This community is filled with amazing professors, TAs, graduate and undergraduate students who apply their skillset to global health interventions and I can say with confidence they want to help us on our journey to do the same. I recommend that any student do their best to reach out, send an email, attend a lecture and network with this community – its worth it!
As a member of the Global Health Undergraduate Advisory Board, how do you envision building community within the student body and how may students connect you for ideas/inquires?
Especially now, finding the opportunity to meet and network can be challenging. I hope that we can host virtual events where students can meet other students – both at the undergraduate and graduate levels – to inspire one another, work with one another and to mentor each other. Some of the most motivating and intellectual conversations I’ve had have been with fellow global and public health peers and I will do my best to extend those experiences to the broader global health community. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me at @avibhullar on Instagram with any questions, concerns or ideas you may have. I look forward to working with you this year and in the future!