Published on April 9, 2019 by Sarah Waller  
Public Health Competition

Two interdisciplinary teams of Samford University students participated in the 2019 Statewide Global Health Case Competition. With only a week to prepare a formal presentation in response to an assigned case study, these students worked together with peers from a variety of different majors to find solutions to public health issues within a specific global community.

Hosted by the Sparkman Center for Global Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the two Samford teams competed against 10 others from university and colleges across the state.  

Grant Smith, a freshman in Samford’s prepharmacy program, was on a team with four other students, each representing a different major. “On Monday, we received the case study, and I met my team for the first time,” he said. “At first, the case study felt overwhelming, but it was helpful to know I could rely on my teammates.” 

The case study for this year’s competition was titled, “The deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest and the impact on children health outcomes of indigenous population of Madre de Dios Province, Peru.” Mary Catherine Thibodeaux, a senior global studies major, was excited about this topic. 

“I study Spanish culture in Latin American, so I knew about the culture of Peru and what to expect,” she said. “I’ve even had the opportunity to visit the Amazon on a mission trip to Ecuador. I was excited to be able to bring this perspective to the team.”

To provide additional support, students had access to the expertise of faculty in Samford’s School of Public Health and a mentor connected to the competition. “The mentorship was incredibly helpful,” said Joy Senga, a junior health sciences major. “Our professors helped us narrow in our focus and really answer the questions we needed to address.”

While the Samford teams did not place in this year’s competition, students came away with a valuable lesson in interprofessional collaboration. 

“It was amazing to see how people with different backgrounds could come together and create a presentation that is a culmination of our different studies and experiences,” Smith said. “I’m really proud of our final presentation because it reflects all of our different perspectives.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.