The Frist Global Health Leaders (FGHL) program affords young health professional students, residents, and fellows the opportunity to serve and train abroad in underserved communities for up to one semester. In doing so, they will bolster capacity in clinics in need of support as well as offer training to community health workers to promote sustainability upon their departure from these communities. As part of the program, they blog about their experiences. For more information, visit our program page.

Morgan Bowser

Morgan Bowser is an undergraduate student in the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University. She will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health and minor in Global Health and Development. She worked closely with the VILLAGE and Project EARTH grants during her time as a student worker at the Eastman Valleybrook campus at ETSU. Morgan is currently a research assistant for a doctorate candidate who is working on her dissertation related to lawmaker perceptions regarding end-of-life policy decisions. She is a Public Health Student Association member and an American Heart Association certified CPR instructor. Though her experience in the Public Health field has been local, there are many similarities between rural and international health needs which sparked her interest in studying Global Health. This curiosity started at the beginning of her undergraduate course work and later turned into a passion. She is eager to expand her knowledge in Global Health through an internship with The Smiles Foundation in Romania and plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation. Future plans also include the pursuit of a Masters and Doctorate degree in Epidemiology. Morgan is honored to have this opportunity and eagerly looks forward to applying knowledge learned throughout her degree to underserved populations in Romania.


Lauren Brannon

I am a Public Health Major with a focus in community and behavioral health and a Minor in Global Health at East Tennessee State University. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health in May of 2020. I chose Public Health because of my interest in empowering low-resource communities and believe that all people should be aware of how to life their best life, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually Within my college experience, I was able to complete a summer study abroad course in Bolivia where we made quality and staffing improvements in a local hospital, set up health clinics in rural Bolivia, and acted as a health educator for the Quechua indigenous people. My plans after graduating are to teach English in Taiwan for one year while preparing for Graduate school in the Fall of 2021.


Samantha Fox

Samantha is a student in the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University. She is concentrating her studies in Community Health while also pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Administration. She has also completed minors in both Family Studies and Emergency Disaster Response Management. Samantha has been a member of the Public Health Student Association during her time in the college, which enabled her to participate in activities ranging from community service to professional development. She has worked closely with many faculty members in the college through the Village grant at the ETSU Valleybrook campus. Through this work she gained a greater understanding of low resource health and helped develop projects that are still active today. Samantha is an East Tennessee native and has a passion for serving her community through health education endeavors. During her time in public health she developed a great interest in global health studies and international health. This led her to an internship with the Smiles Foundation in Romania where she hopes to gain valuable experience in global health and working with non-governmental organizations. Post-graduation, Samantha hopes to gain more experience through volunteer work before pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health. Samantha is honored to have the opportunity to practice public health on a global scale.


Jessica Barbee

Howdy! My name is Jessica Barbee. I grew up in Morristown, TN. No one ever knows where that is, so most of the time, I call Johnson City, TN home. I’ve lived in Johnson City for the past six years—since starting school at East Tennessee State University. I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology with a minor in biology. I like to say that I accidentally got a master’s degree in public health because I never considered or sought it out. However, the past two years studying epidemiology and global health at ETSU has made for the happiest accident of my life. Graduate school is difficult, but I’ve found a cup of ambition every morning helps! Thank you very much for this opportunity to share my research and work The Smiles Foundation.


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