MAJOR INSPIRATION, a guest blog by Carolyn Gordon, Global Health Honors Major at the Univ. of Washington, Class of 2025
Like any high school student, I have spent many late nights staring at my ceiling contemplating my future. In these lonely conversations, I often wonder what my role may be in contributing to something bigger than myself while also pursuing my passions. I am endlessly drawn to service by my love for human connection. Academically, I am captivated by science for its logicality and concrete, yet ever changing nature. My passions for people, service, and science shape my identity and drive my beliefs. However, attending the Youth Vision Trip to Uganda with Ray United FC gave me insight and direction on what I want to pursue as a career: Global Public Health.
Accompanied by seven other students and University of Southern California professor Dr. Heather Wipfli, I was able to travel the country learning about Uganda’s culture and health systems through participating in activities and connecting with people. Not only did we learn about the public health concerns of the area, but examined the intersection between health and culture. As I traveled with the group, it became clear for the first time that cultural context shapes how health is perceived, treated, and expressed. For example, the cause, treatment, and existence of mental illness is often disputed across cultures. Witnessing this interconnected nature shifted my perspective, and raised new ethical concerns including culturally informed care, health equity, sustainable community-based service, and the social determinants of health.
Taken by this new perspective and driven by a desire to learn about a newfound intersection of my passions, I devoted myself to Global Health. Since returning from Uganda, I have pursued research projects, designed curriculum for health education, learned from mentors in the field, engaged in global health and cultural anthropology classes at local colleges, and attended the Los Angeles Global Health Conference. These experiences have only confirmed my interest, marking the start of a lifelong journey of the exploration of health, culture, and how to best serve others. I still often reminisce about my trip to Uganda and all that it taught me and more importantly all that it drove me, and still drives me, to learn.