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News and Media

Julie Christensen '13 Launches GlobeMed Chapter

Oct. 13, 2011

Amanda Nagy

Julie Christensen

Julie Christensen ’13 is channeling her passion for global health and human rights issues into creating a campus chapter of GlobeMed, a network of college and university students who partner with grassroots organizations around the world to improve the health of people living in poverty.

Christensen, an anthropology major on a pre-med track, completed a rigorous application process to start GlobeMed at Oberlin. She is one of 15 out of 60 applicants chosen to be chapter leaders for the 2011-2012 academic year, and she spent the summer attending training sessions and participating in a leadership institute to prepare for her role.  

This semester, Christensen is recruiting students who will serve on the chapter’s first executive board. The group is partnering with the Center for Community Health Promotion (CHP) in Vietnam, which focuses on Vietnam’s most vulnerable populations affected by HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. Chistensen says the main objectives for GlobeMed at Oberlin this year are to raise money through targeted fundraising campaigns and to be an advocate for CHP. The group will also be involved in World AIDS Day.

“It is our goal to foster a community of students in Oberlin who are able to think critically and practically about issues in global health, especially concerning the interplay between poverty and health,” says Christensen, who stepped down from her leadership role in the Oberlin chapter of the American Student Medical Association to start GlobeMed. Recognizing that global health issues can be addressed close to home, Christensen also wants to establish a local community-based partner in Lorain County or the surrounding Cleveland area that is committed to helping the underserved with a human-rights-based approach.

According to CHP, In Vietnam, the rates of HIV and other illnesses are far greater for homosexual men, orphans and impoverished children, commercial sex workers, and intravenous drug workers. Mostly because of discrimination, these populations are less likely to have access to health care and proper health education. CHP works to decrease stigma and discrimination to improve health. Christensen has set a fundraising goal of $10,000 to support CHP projects, and next summer she plans to send up to three students to intern on site in Vietnam.

A native of Minnetonka, Minn., Christensen comes from a family of medical doctors. One of her mentors, Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies Meredith Raimondo, says she’s inspired by Christensen’s efforts to link Oberlin students to a wider network of students partnering with grassroots organizations to promote global health. “GlobeMed provides an opportunity for our campus to participate in addressing the profound challenges that global poverty poses to the human right to health, and Julie's organizing skills demonstrate the many ways Oberlin students can make a difference,” Raimondo says.

Christensen says Oberlin students already express a great interest in global health, which isn’t surprising given the college’s legacy of social justice, diversity, and inclusion. “It’s my hope that those involved with GlobeMed at Oberlin will take the lessons and values learned to their lives beyond Oberlin.”

Now in its fifth year, GlobeMed has 46 chapters at colleges and universities across the United States. Each chapter partners with a grassroots health organization in the developing world. This fall, Oberlin joins Dartmouth College, Brown University, MIT, Emory University, and Tufts University in launching new chapters.

The Center for Community Health Promotion is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that works for a lasting improvement in the well-being and livelihoods of people through initiatives in health care and health education, and promotes sustainable development through policy advocacy. CHP was established by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations in December 2006 and licensed by Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment in January 2007.

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