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December 17, 2019

Student Spotlight: Michelle Du

Michelle Du (COL ‘22) is an undergraduate studying Biology of Global Health and Economics, and was a student fellow with the Global Health Initiative.

Tell us why are you interested in global health?

Global health is an all-encompassing field that constantly asks me to broaden my perspectives. I am intrigued by the multidisciplinary involvement of global health with respect to medicine, economics, science, ethics, anthropology, and law, allowing for endless learning opportunities. As such, I am interested by the collaborative aspect of global health work that is team-based and that requires input from people of different, diverse backgrounds to resolve issues with complex causes. I like that global health work is driven by the goal of improving people’s lives on an individual level as well as on larger scales, and I’m inspired by the global health community which shows such strong dedication to their work. Work I hope to continue to be involved with in the future. 

What are some global health events you have participated in on campus/in D.C.?

Last semester, I attended a lecture by Dr. Sara Bennett from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she spoke about her health policy and systems work in LMICs, through the STIA annual Maloy Distinguished Lecture on Global Health. 

This semester, I attended a seminar by Dr. Darrel J. Gaskin, also from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, on addressing health care perspectives on race to reduce health disparities, as a part of a seminar series hosted by Georgetown’s Institute for Racial Justice and the NHS entitled, “Racial Justice: Health and Health Care Perspectives.” 

Through the Global Health Initiative, I have also been fortunate enough to participate in discussions with Georgetown professors involved in global health. I particularly enjoyed our discussion with Professor Derek Goldman who co-founded and co-directs the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. As someone who has always been involved in the performing arts as a hobby, it was especially interesting to learn about how performance can spark engagement in social change and to discuss how that can be applied to improving community health. 

What activities are you involved with on campus?

On campus, I am the Partnership Coordinator of GlobeMed, an organization that aims to promote global health education and engage students in global health service. Each chapter has a long-term partnership with a grassroots organization, with which the chapter develops an annual Partnership Action Framework and participates in consistent, open dialogue to support community driven solutions for health disparities. Last summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer at our partner organization, Primeros Pasos, a local clinic in the Palajunoj Valley of Guatemala, on a project to provide safe stoves to community members due to the problems in nutritional and respiratory health observed by the clinic’s doctors. 

I am also on the board of GUSHME (Georgetown University Students for Health and Medical Equity), an organization that serves as the undergraduate liaison for the Health Justice Alliance, a partnership between Georgetown’s law and medical schools to improve health equity. Through GUSHME, I have learned about public health as an intersection of medicine, law, and policy from speakers of diverse professional backgrounds as well as from experiential learning opportunities through the service projects that GUSHME works on. 

And as mentioned before, I am involved in the performing arts on campus as a member of the Georgetown University Dance Company (GUDC) and as the Dance Representative and Vice-Chair of the Performing Arts Advisory Council (PAAC). GUDC is a pre-professional concert repertory dance company and the oldest dance organization on campus in the Department of Performing Arts. This season, I had the opportunity to choreograph a work for the company, which has been a very special creative experience for me. Through PAAC, the governing body of all co-curricular performing arts groups, I have enjoyed learning about the administrative side of the arts and collaborating with the diverse dance groups on campus to promote the performing arts at Georgetown and in the DC area. 

What is your favorite part about being at Georgetown?

My favorite part about being at Georgetown is the vast array of opportunities available to a Georgetown student. Since coming to Georgetown, I’ve been surrounded by countless opportunities both on campus and off, with such a wide range of ways to get involved in any field or interest I may have. On campus, there are so many academic options and chances for exposure to new ideas through the speakers that different programs invite to campus such as the lectures I mentioned above. Additionally, I feel like I am surrounded by so many other driven students who are open to collaboration and who motivate me to pursue my passions. Off campus, the geographic location of Georgetown makes it easy to seek diverse career opportunities and attend eye-opening events, both of which attract other interesting people from whom I have loved conversing with and learning their stories. 

Tell us about your educational and professional aspirations.

After graduation, I am planning on taking a gap year to hopefully work full-time for a global health organization abroad. Afterwards, I plan to attend medical school and from there, with the plan to integrate my experience as a physician with global health work. Mostly, I aspire to continue to be open-minded towards any interesting opportunity or learning experience that arises, as I have learned that all learning can contribute to the generation of effective ideas to improve the lives of all people.