My Experience as a Unite For Sight Global Health World Fellow

By Sarah Conway, BA Amherst College
Fellow, August 2010 - July 2011 (Current Global Health World Fellow)

As a Global Health World Fellow in 2010-2011, I have the opportunity to work in Unite For Sight’s office in New Haven, Connecticut. I first was introduced to Unite For Sight when I attended the Global Health & Innovation Conference in 2010. At the conference, I was exposed to and fascinated by the multi-faceted nature of Unite For Sight and global health in general.

Before my fellowship at Unite For Sight, I had always been interested in global health, but I did not fully appreciate the many complexities and challenges that exist in delivering health care abroad, nor did I understand the best ways to do so. From my experience at Unite For Sight, I now have a much greater understanding of best practices regarding health care delivery and non-profit management, as well as unique insight into social entrepreneurship and aid work. Interacting with CEO and founder of Unite For Sight, Jennifer Staple-Clark, on a daily basis in developing course materials, and discussing issues in global health has been invaluable. In addition, learning about Unite For Sight’s model and about how the organization grew and developed into such an amazing organization has been inspirational.

Throughout my fellowship, I have worked primarily in two areas of Unite For Sight: Global Impact Corps and Global Health University.

Global Impact Corps

My responsibilities with Unite For Sight Global Impact Corps include working with our Campus Representatives. Unite For Sight’s Campus Representatives are our most stellar Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow alumni. I oversee and work closely with the Campus Representatives as they raise awareness about Unite For Sight and about global health delivery on their respective campuses. In this capacity, I help the students to plan events with Unite For Sight speakers and to arrange a variety of information sessions and presentations. Having the opportunity to interact with so many motivated, enthusiastic, and accomplished volunteers has truly been inspirational. Hearing about their experiences with Unite For Sight, and about how their time abroad has impacted their lives, has also been very moving. I have really enjoyed interacting with the Campus Representatives because I know that I am helping to promote and raise awareness about such a unique and amazing organization.

Global Health University

With Global Health University, I work with Jennifer Staple-Clark on developing educational materials to raise awareness about issues in global health and non-profit management. I have developed the following resources:

Creating resources for Global Health University has been an extremely enlightening and stimulating experience. By reading and researching so many diverse topics, I now have a much better understanding about the many different issues that impact health care in the developing world and in the United States. I am appreciative of this newfound knowledge because I am now able to think more critically about public health interventions, best practices, and non-profit work.

Data Analysis and Global Health & Innovation Conference

As part of my year-long fellowship, I also have helped to organize and prepare for Unite For Sight’s Global Health & Innovation Conference. Having the opportunity to be involved with planning for the conference, as well as serving as a moderator at the conference, were great experiences. In addition, most recently, I have been conducting statistical analyses on data from our partner eye clinics to help identify needs and trends for the global health delivery programs.

Reflection

I feel privileged to be able to work at an organization that I can confidently say does great work. By partnering with local clinics and local physicians, Unite For Sight is able to provide eye care for those who cannot afford it, and in a sustainable, responsible manner. The fact that Unite For Sight has an incredible impact not only on individuals, but also on thousands of lives, is inspirational.  Working at Unite For Sight has corroborated my interest in international health, and has inspired me and motivated me to continue working in the field of public health. As I enter medical school in Fall 2011, I am sure that I will incorporate much of what I have learned at Unite For Sight into my medical school education and into my future career as a physician. I believe that this fellowship can be a valuable opportunity not only for those who are interested in health and medicine, but also for those who are interested in making a difference by contributing to an organization that does such meaningful, high-impact work.