Category Archives: Research & Internships

Global Health and Innovation Conference: Cutting Edge Solutions to the World’s Most Pressing Health Problems

By Sahiti Marella, junior in the Honors College

GHICThe Global Health and Innovation Conference held annually at Yale University is the world’s largest global health conference, hosting more than 2,000 attendees from more than 55 countries. This conference is made possible by Unite for Sight, a leading nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to health care globally.

This past April, I had the opportunity to attend and be part of a movement focused on positive health related change across the world. The Global Health and Innovation Conference not only brought together leading experts from all branches in the field, but it also was a gathering ground for international global health leaders, healthcare professionals, graduate representatives, and students. There were a number of attention-grabbing topics addressed through various sessions, panels, and discussions. I was able to sit in on presentations given by founders of major health focused nonprofits, listen to pitches for cutting-edge global health innovations, and network with individuals who shared a common passion for improving our current global health status.

Attending this conferences was one of the best decisions I’ve made since coming to college. For longer than I can remember, I’ve wanted to become a physician, but recently I began questioning if there was something more. I was asking myself “could I take it one step further?” Being a native of India, my family members were only a few among hundreds of thousands of individuals who succumbed to the difficulty of a less than ideal healthcare system. There are a number of people working towards making sure marginalized populations are able to receive adequate medical assistance, yet the problem is incredibly persistent. How do we begin to address and tackle huge problems such as lack of access to healthcare or high incidences of communicable disease?

By attending the Global Health and Innovation conference, I was able to dip my toes into a world that fell at the intersection of providing healthcare and developing and implementing cutting-edge solutions to the largest health problems. I met individuals who were doctors or surgeons but they were also able to take their knowledge on one specific issue and pioneer a solution that addresses the problem in a more effective manner.

Whether you were a student, an admissions director for a top-notch graduate program, a physician, or a CEO of a major nonprofit organization, the Global Health and Innovation Conference was a hub for idea sharing and development on any scale or platform. Everyone in attendance came together to celebrate passion, drive, and vision to take a step forward in global health change. I was able to network with some of the most unique individuals with amazing stories and passions and I left Yale feeling truly inspired.

This conference taught me the importance of not just doing research but taking the knowledge and putting it forward in a way that benefits society. There is always more to learn and more ways to improve and expand on what is already out there, you just need the right tools. I learned that whether its through an unexpected connection, an inspiring idea, or thought provoking conversation, the beauty of research and innovation is that you never know what can help you to grow and expand your work into something that really impacts a population. I encourage everyone, regardless of where your passions lie, to take advantage of every opportunity and every open door because you never know where either of those can lead you.

The Array of Opportunities with a Business Degree

By: Rachel Eker, junior in the Honors College

ekerI always knew I was going to be a business major. Both my parents were business majors and like any other kid, I wanted to be just like my parents. As I got into high school, I despised dissecting animals so I knew a science career was out. Poetry and writing were never my thing so that eliminated English as a career path also. It seemed like business was a good choice after all. I would be able to find a job after college and be able to relate to my parents.

Through my journey the last two years at ECU’s College of Business and the Honors College, I have interacted with many business professionals and I always ask them what they studied in college. For the most part, I get an answer that explains how they were studying a different part of business than the one they are in now. These conversations led me to realize how versatile a business degree is and I’ve come to appreciate that.

Business incorporates marketing, economics, management and finance. It’s impossible to separate one from the other while working in a business setting. I am thankful to have been chosen as a Business Scholar, where I have had the opportunities to understand the scope of a business degree.

Currently, I am studying accounting and finance. Next summer, I will have the opportunity to be an intern at Dixon Hughes Goodman in my hometown, Jacksonville, FL. I aspire to get my CPA after graduation and work at an accounting firm, but eventually transition into a finance position for a corporation.

With my business degree, I know I am not tied to a CPA position and can really go anywhere. I’ve always liked to be adventurous and I know I have chosen a degree that can let me take risks and will give me the chance to accomplish whatever I want.

Examining Public Health Policies and Outcomes

By Brice Bowrey, freshman EC Scholar

BowrySince 1995, the first full week of April has officially been National Public Health Week. This week is intended to be a time where the public health community can come together to celebrate advancements in the field and highlight areas where improvements can still be made. A critical part of achieving these objectives is conducting research to examine topics such as the effectiveness of certain public health policies or how various external factors affect public health policies and outcomes. Conducting research like this is exactly what one Brody School of Medicine professor of public health, two graduate students and I have been doing since Fall 2015.

Our research began as an offshoot of a larger project, but eventually we decided that our findings were significant enough to deserve a poster presentation of their own. We decided to title the research “History and Tobacco Legislation Reform in Eastern North Carolina.” As the title suggests, the poster we created focused on how various historical, cultural, financial and political factors affected the strength of tobacco legislation in various North Carolina counties.

By examining legislation, looking at statistical data and conducting interviews with stakeholders and policymakers, we sought to fully understand why some counties have far more robust and effective tobacco legislation than others. In the end, we found some key facilitators and barriers that can lead to strong or weak tobacco control laws.

We went to present this research at both the ECU Public Health Research Symposium and the Public Health Conference held at UNC-Wilmington in honor of National Public Health Week. This conference consisted of a poster showcase, two speakers and, of course, time to meet and greet everyone in attendance.

During the poster showcase, we were able to display our research alongside dozens of other students from various disciplines such as nursing, public health and physical therapy. Both speakers were fascinating, but one gave a particularly interesting presentation about chemotherapy and exercise. She discovered that, surprisingly, physical activity is very beneficial to patients undergoing chemotherapy, so she is currently working to create programs to get chemotherapy patients up and active.

In addition to these great speakers, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet a number of Masters of Public Health degree students from both the ECU and UNCW graduate schools. Overall, assisting in research and participating in the UNC Wilmington Public Health Conference were very interesting and informative experiences. I am very thankful that I had these opportunities.

Fact from Fiction: Deciphering Comparative History

By Garrett Yarbrough, EC Scholar sophomore

The last orange rays ofGarrett Yarbrough the setting sun flashed intermittently between the library bookshelves as I weaved briskly between them. I glanced fervently between the jagged paper with a haphazardly scrawled call number and the tiny labels on the spines. My bloodshot eyes moved down the row of dusty books, glancing at each in turn from beneath my furrowed brow. Aha! Hours and hours sifting through dusty books–through all four floors of the library–and leads that ended up deader than disco, and finally that “Aha!” that I’ve been waiting for, no, digging for.

No matter the hours hunched over a worn library keyboard with the T’s and S’s worn off, or the wild goose chases for one particular book that happened to be on exchange half the state away, that one moment of longing astonishment is always worth it. As a History and English major, biology doesn’t get my gears going and I don’t have much chemistry with atoms. I’ll tell you though, that one fact on page two hundred and eight-four smack-dab in the middle of a soldier’s memoir from 1944 will get my engines up and ready to dive head first into the newspapers from his hometown, and from there…what do you know? I’m halfway through a research project.

This semester, I’ve had the privilege to begin my foray into history with an in-depth research regarding the subject of the treatment of German Prisoners of War in North Carolina contrasted with how the American guards behaved towards the German prisoners in the Rheinwiesenlager, the Rhine Meadow camps. The fact that German POWs were held in North Carolina camps is not often discussed—or even known on some accounts—nor the fact that Americans held German soldiers from April to September of 1945 in twelve POW camps along the Rhine River in Germany.

Naturally, knowledge of German soldiers living down the road from the local school and half a mile from your neighbor’s farm wouldn’t be taken kindly nor calmly by the nationalistic people of rural North Carolina. Neither would the vindictive treatment of the German soldiers by Americans, living in barbed wire cages in the Ruhr Valley, including the lack of food and supplies (although that couldn’t be help as a massive shortage plagued occupied Europe). Heck, German U-boats (submersibles) patrolled up and down the North Carolina coast throughout the war, and the first German POWs sent to America were from a U-boat sunk off our coast. The captured soldiers were then promptly sent to Fort Bragg and Camp Butner, Fort Bragg holding the first POWs on American soil during World War II.

In the case of unfavorable (to some audiences) history, perspectives vary wildly in the historical community, and selective research is cherry-picked to be presented to the public. This is where the most interesting part of historical research comes in—and where the learning magic happens. You can’t trust everything you read, and my project touches on this. My research is on comparative history, historiography, and personal memoirs. Reporting from these events tend to be filtered through a biased lens, depending on motive, theses, nationalities, and other background context. Learning to properly research, be a skeptic, and analyze the clues and sources left behind by researchers are skills that can be applied to any writing for any field. Being thorough and critical thinking are a must for any kind of reporting or research.

Not only do I get to learn the ins and outs of my prospective field, I get to speak to other prominent historians that have earned their stripes…a position I hope to be in in the near future. With the help of ECU staff and that of the devoted Honors College, I’ve gotten to speak to several historians specializing in naval history and the fates of these Germans. Through the personal archives of one of these historians, I’ve gotten to see the humanity and generosity that the North Carolinians treated German POWs, which resulted in fond memories in most cases and their emigration to the United States after the war.

“What could possibly be better than tracking down each and every tidbit available for your research project? What ecstatic experience could hope to top it?” you’re all wondering, arriving back home from our brief but breath-taking adventure to History Land. The payoff for all that arduous work wafts off the page in the hot ink, you sitting back with disheveled hair and peering over each footnote, knowing that you held that story, and that story came from someone who crawled out of the mud and barbed wire cages and into the brisk autumn German air of 1945.

The alluring part of studying history is the realization that the story doesn’t stop after you print out that bibliography. The present only lasts for a moment, and then it’s history. History is made every day, and with what I’ve learned from my research project, more stories unfold every day as a result of the past. With that said, I can tell you without a doubt that I’m banking on hunting down each of those stories that I can get my hands on.

A Semester of Revelations: Experiencing Dutch Healthcare

By: Ankita Mishra, Honors College sophomore 

IMG_9629The October of my freshman year, I began planning my study abroad experience. I researched the best options: the programs that would bring me the most credits, and a country that would best suit my interests. I landed upon HAN University in the Netherlands.

What I have learned and seen so far this semester may sound like anything else you may have read about being abroad, but the value that has been revealed to me in relation to medicine, patience, and humanity lies beyond comprehension. My minor, Internationalization, entailed a semester of theory involving the practice of healthcare in Western and developing countries and a comparison of these practices. This was coupled with a practical research component that I’d be completing while the Dutch students in the minor traveled abroad to practice health care in various developing countries at clinics in partnership with the university. The part I didn’t realize? Each and every one of my classmates would be a nursing student.

Being a public health major on a pre-medical route, my interests coincide with those of my classmates, but the education that we have received is very different. With every lecture, assignment, and group project that we completed together, I learned more about medicine from the perspective of a nurse. The challenges that they face and the mission that they hope to accomplish with every patient is similar to what I have observed from shadowing doctors, yet treated so different. Nurses are actively engaged in public health policy, patient advocacy, and have a tremendous role in the health of a patient. It occurred to me while working with other nurses that the ultimate difference between a doctor and a nurse is simply the ultimate responsibility of the patient as this is primarily the doctor’s liability. Everything else — the opportunities they have, their experiences, their goals, and their basic education — is the same.

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My time with my nursing classmates not only illustrated to me the value of nursing, but also exposed me to the simple yet beautiful practice of Dutch healthcare. I have visited numerous hospitals and clinics in the Netherlands and the one aspect that they share is patient-centered care. Dutch health care focuses on addressing the social health of a patient to make hospitalization a less drastic change for patients. The cultural expectation of a person who is sick is not abided by in the practice of Dutch health care. Patients are provided with a close semblance of their daily routine as health care providers allow them to wear their own clothes, provide them with various opportunities for social interaction, and attempt to replicate their typical daily schedules as much as possible. In addition, hospitals and clinics constantly renovate their building to keep up with the needs of their clients and to assure that the client has the best possible experience during their stay. They overwhelm the client with options when it comes to rooms, their daily meal, and their day-to-day living while at their Hospital. With this approach, the Dutch health care system seeks to address the holistic needs of the patient rather than just curing their illness. The best part of it all, though? Most, if not all, of this care is free to the client.

My time in the Netherlands so far has taught me a lot about Dutch healthcare and how it compares to that of America and other countries. I continue to learn more through my research component, which consists of studying about the cost-efficiency of prevention methods established by large NGO’s, and then applying this knowledge to help develop a new public health minor at HAN with other lecturers. I cannot begin to thank the International Office and the Honors College for giving me this amazing opportunity to expand my perspective on medicine. With half of my stay to look forward to, I cannot even begin to imagine what the next few months holds.

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