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Reflecting on the Global Health Program

Emma Jackson

After graduating from UC San Diego as a Global Health Major in the Spring of 2016, Alumna Emma Jackson has been working under the supervision of Dr. Anita Raj as a research project assistant at the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UC San Diego’s Department of Global Public Health.  Additionally, Emma assisted in the organization of the annual Day of the Girl event, a cause in which Emma feels truly connected.  This event celebrates the empowerment of girls worldwide, and specifically, youth in San Diego. In fact, Emma’s Senior Capstone Research Project and Thesis focused on Girl Education and Girl Child Marriage in India and Ethiopia.

Emma believes that each and every one of the Global Health core classes she took during her undergraduate coursework shaped the way she now views health. She attributes her well-informed and progressive views of health and the human experience to her this coursework as it provided a strong foundation on the social determinants of health, which she plans to build upon in graduate school. In particular, medical and social anthropology classes really influenced her thinking, especially in the approaches to social inequality and the health issues that arise from this phenomenon.

Emma reveals, “The support you get as a UCSD Global Health student is beyond compare, and the opportunities and network you gain by being in this program truly are unique at large research school like UCSD (take advantage of this).”

Perhaps Emma’s favorite part of her time as an undergrad was when she spent time abroad in  Santiago, Chile working with health professionals to study the Chilean health care system and Chilean intercultural health centers. From this field experience, Emma gleaned an understanding of ethnography and Mapuche medicine. Travelling to Chile helped Emma to start to develop the skills of an anthropologist.  Additionally, something else that really cemented Emma’s desire to work in global health was travelling to Dharamsala, India, to learn about compassion towards the environment and all people from the Dalai Lama. Universal compassion is a concept that Emma thinks is inherently linked to the desire to work towards attaining true “global” health.

Emma also raves about Students for Global Health! In particular, she loved helping organize the first three Quarterly Conversations in Global Health, and highly recommends going to these events.  Emma expresses, “They are a place to learn from researchers and advocates alike, to network with other students from UCSD, and to learn about what is being done in San Diego to combat various health issues. It is also a great way to learn about potential internships and field experiences!”

Ultimately, Emma plans to continue to study social inequality and how that in turn affects people’s health and well being. She would like to earn a masters in public health with a focus on behavioral science and social epidemiology. During her two year gap, Emma plans on continuing to work at the Center, and she is also in the process of applying for the Global Health Corps for next year.

Emma’s advice to undergraduate students is “if you are interested, go for it.”  She suggests that students find a couple of topics from their courses that genuinely interest them and then to reach out to professors, on and off campus organizations or campus groups that offer experiences that support your topics of interest. Emma got her internship at the Center on Gender Equity and Health by expressing her interest in the Center’s research and taking the initiative to e-mail them her resume.  Emma shares her career aspirations, “I would like to have a job that allows me to do research on gender and social inequality and health, but also allows me to be involved in creating policy and advocating for change.”

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