GHIC 2018: Global Health & Innovation Conference
April 14-15, 2018
Yale University, New Haven, CT

A Reflection on Presenting at the GHIC

 

Eleanor Gerhard

Eleanor Gerhard is a rising undergraduate senior in the St. Bonaventure University BS/MD Program with the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences with previous global health experiences in Haiti and Uganda. She presented her research project on the use of mobile phones as low-cost vision screening tools at the 2017 Global Health & Innovation Conference and is a Unite For Sight Global Health Leadership Intern in New Haven, CT for the Summer of 2017.

 

As a firm believer in the power of experiential learning, I always considered my on-the-ground participation in global health delivery projects to be my greatest educational asset. Having spent seven months collectively living and working abroad, nothing surprised me more than when I arrived at the 2017 Global Health & Innovation Conference, my first GHIC experience, and learned more in the initial six hours of the conference than I had over my previous three years involvement in the field.

Though I had come to the conference to present my research during the poster session, I gained so much more from my two days in New Haven than just the ability to share my work. The poster session itself provided the opportunity for me to network with and receive feedback from experienced professionals and fellow students from a wide array of disciplines, ranging from economics to education. This allowed me to learn from individuals with perspectives different from any I had ever interacted with in previous academic environments. Presenting a poster at the conference also let me connect with others that share similar passions and granted me the ability to express my own devotion to the field through my research.

The information sessions and panels that I attended bestowed knowledge on more topics than I even knew existed in global health, presented by students, physicians, and educators of all ages and origins. The open atmosphere of these forums fostered supportive dialogue between conference-goers and presenters, addressing thought-provoking problems and exploring possible solutions. I was captivated by how easily difficulties and failures were discussed that normally would have been left unaddressed. Just in knowing that others had been touched by the same emotions and had encountered similar adversities, I found a sense of belonging in the GHIC community.

One of the highlights of the conference for me was watching Dr. Vanessa Kerry, CEO and founder of SEED Global Health, give the Keynote Address. Observing the eloquence, grace, and intelligence with which Dr. Kerry presented herself and the message she delivered on redefining sustainable global health practices left me in awe. As a future female global health physician, participating in a conference where so many women, including Dr. Kerry, Jennifer-Staple Clark and Dr. Jane Aronson, were not only represented, but recognized for their pioneering contributions to the field was a truly remarkable opportunity, and an experience I will never forget.

After attending the abundance of addresses, information sessions, and plenary panels packed into the weekend, I realized how welcomed I had felt by the global health community, and I left the conference teeming with gratitude and inspiration. At the GHIC, I discovered there is no greater honor than to be able to engross yourself in heartfelt discussion with others equally as enthusiastic as you to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. I’d like to thank everyone that shared their wisdom, woes, and wisecracks with those of us at the Global Health & Innovation Conference. I already cannot wait to return next year!