David Frantz (left)
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A core tenet of the Department of Global Health’s mission is understanding the causes of health inequities at multiple levels, including ways that health intersects with other pressing issues facing the global population. For David Frantz, a third-year undergraduate student in the University of Washington Global Health minor, that meant exploring ways that health can be weaved together with his other academic interests.

“My original plan coming into UW was to dive into environmental studies. I was really interested in the social relationship with the environment,” Frantz said. “I realized along the way that global health described exactly what I was hoping to study. It’s understanding societies and cultures and humans in a way that improves their lives in many different regards. It’s not just getting a shot in a clinic, it’s making sure that pollution is acknowledged and controlled, food is safe to eat, water is sanitary, and a million different things.”

Learning about the department’s values pushed Frantz to enroll in the minor and become engrossed in its curriculum. The classroom experience – particularly that in GH 401: Core Topics in Global Health – helped Frantz understand all branches of the Global Health tree.

“I find the lectures really interesting because each week is a new speaker presenting on the work that they do and having the floor to share all of their passions,” Frantz said. “It’s a great opportunity to see the impact of global health and all that you can do in this field. It’s definitely given me a much broader perspective on the tangible careers and experiences available in global health rather than just studying it as a discipline.”

Of course, interacting with DGH faculty, staff, and students who share common interests has opened up a wide array of new information. Having leading researchers and knowledgeable peers within reach caused Frantz to absorb even more things within global health.

“I’ve become a lot more tuned into what epidemiology is and why it’s significant,” he said. “Hearing about it from faculty who not only understand it, but implement it, showed how useful it is as I enter the global health world.”

After being in the department for two years, Frantz began searching for ways to enter the global health world in a more hands-on way. This led him to PATH, a nonprofit global health organization focused on finding developments in vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system/service innovations.

“I got started with PATH in August doing standards and norms research work in the access to medical oxygen project they’re doing,” Frantz explained. “We’re analyzing existing market structures to understand how accessible medical oxygen is around the world, specifically in low and middle-income countries.”

Frantz hopes that the experiences he’s gaining both on and off campus will allow him to form a better understanding of some other topics he’s passionate about. He lists queer health and health accessibility, as well as the communication and environmental aspects of health as other areas he hopes to make an impact in. Ultimately, though, he has one underlying goal that drives researchers, fellows, and educators alike to pursue new projects around the world.

“I just hope to be part of a team working together toward the common goal of improving global health.”