Section Connection An insider's view of the APHA international health section

"Of the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In This Issue:

  • Introduction - Letter from Global Health Connections Chair
  • Meet Your Leadership
  • Getting to Know APHA
  • Your Guide to the Annual Meeting
  • How to Stand Out From the Crowd
  • In Memoriam - Miriam Labbok


Theresa Majeski - Writer / Editor

Kendall Penndorf - Writer / Editor

Erick Amick - Editor

Jessica Keralis - Editor

Introduction - Letter from Global Health Connections Chair

This spring and summer, the Global Health Connections Committee conducted a short online survey of students and young professionals. We wanted to know what you hoped to gain from your APHA IH Section membership, and what we as leadership could do to help.

238 students and young professionals responded to the survey. Overwhelmingly you told us you want:

  • more networking,
  • more career growth opportunities,
  • more educational opportunities via webinars and discussions of current global health issues, and
  • better communication about Section involvement opportunities.

We heard you loud and clear.

Welcome to the year-long pilot of Section Connection, the quarterly APHA IH Section e-Newsletter. This newsletter will include Section happenings and interviews of Section members. More importantly, it will provide information on ways you can get involved in the section to maximize your membership to grow your global health career.

Theresa Majeski

Chair, Global Health Connections Committee, International Health Section, APHA

Meet Your Leadership

By: Theresa Majeski

This segment focuses on introducing you to some of the IH Section Leadership. They explain what motivated them, both personally and professionally, to get into global health, and what role they play as leaders in the Section.

Samantha Wasala and Samantha Dayton - International Health Student Committee (IHSC) Co-Chairs

IHSC Co-Chair - Samantha Wasala

Samantha Wasala

I am a second year MPH student at Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice concentrating in Global Health and Epidemiology. I completed my undergraduate degree in Human Physiology at the University of Iowa. I became interested in working in global health when I was able to travel to Haiti and India as part of my undergraduate coursework. Working with community partners to address primary health concerns in the region solidified that I wanted to continue working and learning about global issues. My primary interests are in global hunger, food security, and malnutrition. This past summer I completed my practicum in Lwala Kenya researching the intersection of climate change and food security in small hold farmers.

IHSC Co-Chair - Samantha Dayton

Samantha Dayton

I am currently a second year MPH / MBA student at Stony Brook School of Medicine and Stony Brook University concentrating in Healthcare Analytics and Healthcare Management. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in the Spring of 2014 where I double majored in Health: Science, Society & Policy and Psychology. Presently, I work in the research division of the Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Medicine department of Stony Brook Hospital with a particular interest in Maternal Fetal Medicine. My interest in global health arose after studying social work research abroad and discovering the disparities that exist in access to proper healthcare in our world. In addition to global access of proper maternal and fetal care, I also have a very strong interest in access to mental healthcare services.

So, what is the IHSC?

The mission of the IHSC is really four-fold:

  • firstly, we want to provide students with a multidisciplinary forum for academic, scientific, and public exchanges of knowledge, experience, and views on global health;
  • secondly, we want to mobilize interest and encourage debate among students and young professionals on global health issues;
  • thirdly, we want to collaborate with the International Health Section to provide students with mentoring and information on opportunities to learn technically, scientifically, and politically sound approaches to issues in global health. We also collaborate with other APHA Sections whose interests and ideals intersect with our own, and;
  • finally, we strive to advocate for key global health issues within APHA and within academic and educational institutions.

Now, how do we do this?

We Network:

Our biggest event by far is the APHA Annual Meeting. It is where we are able to provide students with the greatest opportunities to network with established global health professionals. At this year's Annual Meeting we will be hosting a round table discussion event where students can ask questions and learn from a wide variety of global health professionals specializing in topics ranging from maternal and child health to environmental health. Throughout the remainder of the year, we also work to connect students with professionals in their field of interest to gain insight as to what it takes to be a leader in global health.

We Educate:

Through social media outlets, we are able to reach students and young professionals on real time issues in global and international health. We do this through our public pages on Facebook or Twitter where students are able to discuss and debate about global health issues as well as catch up on the most recent research in the field. In the past we have also hosted a series of Webinars on various topics including global health issues but also practical information for students, such as how to transition from being a student to being a professional in global health.

We Promote:

We work to make the students of today into the global health leaders of tomorrow. We want to know what students are doing. If you are a student doing research in global health, presenting a poster, or being published, we will put it out there through our media outlets and let others know about it.

As an IHSC member, you will join a dedicated network of students and young professionals working in the field of public health that share the same passion for global health that you do! You’ll be given opportunity to be more involved with APHA and the IH section, and find ways that you could make an impact both at home and abroad.

Jessica Keralis - Communications Committee Chair

Communications Chair - Jessica Keralis

I have always known that I was destined for a career focused on science and health, though the shape that work would take has evolved over the years - sometimes through self-discovery, but mostly through serendipity. Originally I thought I wanted a career in biomedical research, but I quickly became frustrated with the laboratory investigation process after working in a chemistry lab. During the last year of my biomedical science undergraduate degree at Texas A&M, I saw a brochure outside my major office for the school of public health - I could start taking masters-level classes during my last semester and get my MPH with just one more year of study. It seemed better than jumping straight into a Ph.D. program, so I thought, "Why not?"

As for the "global" part, my mother is Brazilian, so my worldview has always been international, and my career goals naturally followed. Getting into the global health workforce via the "traditional" route proved a bit more challenging than expected, so I leveraged my involvement with the IH Section to pick up freelance work and made a niche for myself in independent research and advocacy, which fulfills my desire for creativity, flexibility, and an independent voice well. Now I am designing studies, publishing papers, and presenting at conferences on the things that interest me most.

What does the Communications Committee do?

We are the public face of the IH Section! We keep members and professionals in the global health community informed about the Section's research and advocacy initiatives. We also cover global health news and developments in the industry, and we provide commentary on issues and challenges of interest to the professional community. We do this by managing the Section's communication platforms, which include e-mail listservs, social media, and the IH Blog.

What benefits do members get from being part of the Communications Committee?

The Communications Committee works very closely with all other Section committees to keep the membership up to date on what those committees are working on, meaning that you are automatically plugged in to any and all ongoing Section activities. Also, because we are the Section's public face, you will have a chance to network with other global health professionals and agencies and establish your own presence and voice in the community by offering your analysis of current global health issues.

How can members learn more about the Communications Committee and how to get involved?

Contact me at, check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and read the IH Blog!

Anything else readers should know about the Communications Committee?

We are preparing to publish the results of the Global Health Jobs Analysis, a joint project with the Global Health Connections Committee, which will provide students and early career professionals with valuable insight into what the global health employment landscape looks like and what they can do to make themselves more competitive in the job market. Results will also be posted to the IH Blog, so check back often!

"History will judge us on how we respond to the AIDS emergency in Africa...whether we stood around with watering cans and watched while a whole continent burst into flames....or not."


Getting to Know APHA

By: Theresa Majeski

This section focuses on introducing you to APHA as a broader organization, how the IH Section works with other APHA Sections, and how to make the most out of your APHA membership.

APHA Connect

Did you know your APHA membership came with a free, already established account on APHA's social media platform? Most people probably do not.

Things you can do on APHA Connect:

  • fill out your profile and include tag words so others with similar interests can find you,
  • search through all APHA members using those tag words so you can find people with specific experiences and expertise, and
  • get access to the IH Section's discussion board where you can have conversations about global health topics.

Your Guide to the Annual Meeting

By: Theresa Majeski

Here are some things you should know to take advantage of the great opportunities Annual Meeting attendance offers.

Networking at the Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting offers lots of opportunities for networking with other IH Section members. Truth be told, this is one of the main reasons for attending. The IH Section is one of the largest APHA member sections with almost 2500 members, over 660 of those joined since June 2016, and in 2015 we were the 4th largest section out of the 29 APHA sections.

Attending the IH Section sessions allows you to learn about the great global health work being done around the world, but it can be hard to make connections with other attendees as you rush from session to session. This is where volunteering at the Annual Meeting can help.

The IH Section offers the option to volunteer at the International Attendees Welcome Desk, a desk in the Registration area designed to help the Section welcome our international members. This opportunity gives you an hour or two during the multi-day meeting to sit with and get to know other Section members, as well as the international members and leadership members who stop by the desk. Instructions are provided so first-time volunteers and veterans can feel comfortable with their roles and responsibilities.

Other ways to network include attending:

  • the Awards Reception on Tuesday evening,
  • the IH Section Business Meeting 1 on Sunday afternoon, and
  • the International Health Luncheon on Wednesday (additional cost associated).

Additionally, student members can sign-up for the APHA Public Health Service Day 2016 happening in Denver on October 30th. There are different volunteering options depending on your interests and, as of press time, each option still has spots remaining for the 3 hour volunteering shift.

Besides networking, what else is there to do at the Annual Meeting?

You can always attend the IH Section sponsored sessions. Our abstract review volunteers work very hard every late winter and early spring to review and score the hundreds of abstracts submitted to IH Section sessions. Only the very best are accepted. This allows the IH Section sessions to cover a wide variety of topics and introduce you to tons of great work happening all over the world.

The 40+ IH Section oral and poster sessions cover a wide-range of topics, including:

  • human hights,
  • maternal and child health,
  • emerging and neglected tropical diseases,
  • refugee health,
  • global health advocacy,
  • the Zika epidemic,
  • non-communicable diseases,
  • mental health,
  • monitoring and evaluation (M&E),
  • systems thinking,
  • and many more.

Other things to do include attending one of the full-day or half-day learning institutes that happen the Saturday or Sunday before the Annual Meeting.

Looking to spend quality time with some global health leaders while increasing your global health skills? The IH Section's Community Based Primary Health Care Working Group is sponsoring a one-day workshop entitled Empowerment & Behavioral Change: Sharing Methods & Evidence for Improving Global Health Inequalities, on Saturday, October 29th. This workshop puts you in the same room with researchers, consultants and government workers who have a variety of global health experiences in areas such as maternal and child health, TB, malaria, health systems strengthening, and much more. Some of the past attendees have been consultants for WHO, Ministries of Health, and the World Bank.

Job seekers can also check out the Public Health Career Mart and get some one-on-one career coaching. Finally, get yourself some free swag from the HUGE expo!

"Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as their women."

Michelle Obama

How to Stand Out From the Crowd

By: Theresa Majeski

Do you want to showcase your communication skills for future employers?

Do you want to personally connect and network with other members of the section?

Do you want to make yourself stand out from the crowd by demonstrating your commitment to global health?

Then do something about it.

The IH Section offers plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, showcase your skills, and set yourself apart from the crowd.

However, while we can tell you about them, you need to take the next step and reach out to learn more! Learn about a few opportunities below.


  • Connect with and interview (remotely) members of Section leadership, the next generation of public health leaders, experienced members of the global health community, and more.
  • Showcase your writing skills for future employers to see.
  • Get your name on a by-line for over 2,500 IH Section members to see.
  • Not a writer? Contribute to the newsletter by providing photos of your global health work.


  • Publish your analysis and commentary on developments in the global health field.
  • Polish your writing skills for a global audience.
  • Add professional social media experience to your resume.

Committees/Working Groups

  • Gain terrific networking opportunities by working closely with Section leadership.
  • Show future employers your dedication to global health with real-world examples of things you have accomplished outside of school and your regular job.
  • Find current Section leadership position vacancies here.

In Memoriam

By: Theresa Majeski

Miriam Labbok

Former Chair of the APHA International Health Section, Recipient of the Carl E. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, and tireless champion for the health of women and infants.

Miriam Labbok

Miriam spent the better part of her life working to improve the health of women and infants around the world. She was Professor of the Practice of maternal and child health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health from 2006 - 2016 and founding director of the Gillings School’s Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI). An anonymous donor’s generous gift established the center in 2006 with an intent to advance global research about the health benefits of breastfeeding and to educate women and families about the value of breastfeeding for infants and young children.

For additional information on Miriam's incredible contributions to global health and maternal and child health, please click here.

Miriam passed away in August after a courageous battle with cancer. While her impact on global health will be felt by future generations for all eternity, she will be missed forever by those who knew her.

Bette Gebrian, Laura Altobelli, Mary Anne Mercer, Miriam Labbok

Photo credits: Pippa Ranger/Department for International Development, Theresa Majeski, Samantha Wasala, Samantha Dayton, Jessica Keralis, Amy Hagopian, Mary Anne Mercer

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