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 here. For more information, visit our program page.

FGHL Tosin Ariyo

Tosin Ariyo is a current DrPH student in Community Heath at East Tennessee State University. She is from Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the U.S to complete her undergraduate education at Lee University. After completion of her MPH from UTHSC-Houston, Tosin moved to Charlotte, NC to work at Levine Cancer Institute where she did research on surgical oncology outcomes and their impact on public health.

Tosin’s interest in public health stems from her exposure to the health inadequacies of underserved and developing communities, while growing up in Nigeria. This summer she will be working with the WHO-Country office in Lusaka, Zambia where she would be focusing on cancer trends in the region.

Yvonne Carter FGHL Yvonne Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University in Medicine, Health, and Society and is a recent graduate of Vanderbilt School of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Master of Science in Nursing program. Her interest in global health began in 2009, as undergraduate service-learning experiences took her from clinics in rural Mexico to the homes of HIV positive patients in Kampala, Uganda. Through the St. Augustine’s community in Nashville and the Center for Contemplative Justice, she has spent the past two years partnering with local professionals to participate in an annual visiting clinic in San Eduardo, Ecuador where she spends the majority of her time in a preventative health clinic geared towards community health and education efforts. She is excited to return to San Eduardo, Ecuador through the Frist Global Health Leaders program this fall in order to work with local clinics and continue a longitudinal community-based study, focusing on the burden of non-communicable diseases in San Eduardo and surrounding communities.
Candice Collins

Candice Collins obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology from Lincoln Memorial University in 2013. After graduating, she began a MPH Global Health program at Touro University California. There, she was able to intern with the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) through the Public Health Institute (PHI) in Oakland, CA. Through the programs field study requirements, she was able to be an international intern for Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While in Cambodia, she evaluated a community based program involved in preventing, caring for, and supporting HIV patients in rural and urban settings.

Currently, Candice is a DrPH student in Epidemiology at East Tennessee State University. She has been working as a graduate assistant and research assistant for various projects within the college and has obtained valuable experience in the public health field. This summer she will be working with the Henan Provincial CDC, China CDC in Zhengzhou, China.

FGHL Alexi Decosimo

Alexis Decosimo MA, LPCA received her masters in Art Therapy and Clinical Counseling at The George Washington University. Alexis is currently working as an art therapist in Asheville, NC, a doctoral student at East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, and is the Founder and Executive Director of Playing to Live! She specializes in trauma informed art therapy, program development, and international work. She has worked in Yekepa, Liberia, India, Jamaica, Florence, Italy, and Walter Reed National Military Hospital. She has worked as a clinician in wilderness therapy settings, autism, substance abuse, at risk youth in diverse populations, PTSD, military, and with homeless and displaced persons. 

She has experienced time and time again how artistic expression, play, and cultural empowerment can facilitate recovery and healing after a traumatic experience, and her passion and career path lies within developing global programs that provide children in low resource communities a safe and healing space for recovering from trauma.

Jennifer Elia

Jennifer Elia is a Critical Care Medicine Fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Originally from California, she went to UC Davis for her undergraduate education, majoring in Physiology and minoring in Global and International Studies. It was at that time she was able to visit Egypt, the land of her heritage, for a medical mission trip. She provided basic medical care to several underserved towns and villages and since has desired to incorporate international healthcare in her career. She completed her Anesthesiology Residency in Southern California and chose to pursue Critical Care at Vanderbilt as a means to further her skills and knowledge, especially since it would provide great value in the field of global health. She is currently spending time at AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kenya where she has been able to work both in the ICU and the Operating Rooms with Vanderbilt International Anesthesiology

Catherine Freeland is a second year Master of Public Health Student at East Tennessee State University with a concentration in Community and Behavioral Health.  She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana.  Following her graduation from Hanover College, she spent a year working in Nairobi, Kenya as a Communication and Programming Chair for the Organization of African Instituted Churches.  In this position Catherine was working to empower, educate, and learn from grassroots community leaders through a train the trainer program.  Since living in Kenya, Catherine has had a passion for expanding her public health knowledge and experience in order to have a greater impact in the field of global public health.  She is interested in reducing health disparities through sustainability projects and collaboration at the community level.  As a Frist Field Scholar, Catherine will be applying her public health knowledge in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia through the F.I.R.E. organization and the World Health Organization focusing on community outreach and education on Hepatitis and liver cancer. 

FGHL Beth Helmlink

Beth Helmink is an MD/PhD from Teutopolis, IL, and currently a 4th year General Surgery resident at Vanderbilt University. During grad school, she spent time in Honduras and Nicaragua on short philanthropic adventures. During her 4th year of medical school, she spent 3 months in rural Malawi performing clinical research on childhood malnutrition with Dr. Mark Manary from Washington University in St. Louis. She recently spent 4 weeks in Kijabe, Kenya, operating with and learning from talented Kenyan surgery residents. Upon completion of residency, she will begin a surgical oncology fellowship with plans for a focus in global surgical oncology. 

Kimberly Johnson

Kimberly Cara Johnson, RN, is a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) student at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She has a background in emergency nursing and has previously served with a medical mission team in Kenya, Africa. Upon graduation Kimberly plans on pursuing a career as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and continuing to serve on medical mission trips. Her desire is to provide and teach healthcare practices at a global level, so that every individual has an equal opportunity to receive quality healthcare. Kimberly is a 2014 graduate of Belmont University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. She is native of Tucson, Arizona. 

Kimberly visited Cambodia's Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE for her medical mission work.

FGHL Matt Kynes

James Matthew Kynes is a current pediatric anesthesia fellow at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. He previously trained in anesthesia at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA and attended medical school at Vanderbilt University. His interest in global health is one of the main things that drew him into medicine, and he has explored research and volunteer opportunities in South Sudan, Kenya, Mozambique, and Guatemala. In medical school, he and his wife spent two months working with an orphanage and assisting at a hospital in Nimule, South Sudan. During anesthesia residency, Matt devoted time to developing educational programs for residents going abroad for international rotations and service trips, and spent one month at AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kijabe, Kenya providing anesthesia care and education. As a fellow in pediatric anesthesia, he participated in a one week service trip to Guatemala City providing anesthesia services for an ENT surgery mission sponsored by the Shalom Foundation. 

Hope through Healing Hands has supported his most recent trip to AIC Kijabe Hospital where his education and clinical work with student anesthetists has focused on pediatric anesthesia. As he continues in his career, his goal is to continue to use his skills and training in anesthesia to advance access to safe and effective anesthesia and surgery throughout the developing world, and to empower other providers to do the same.

Michael LeCompte

Michael LeCompte is in his 4th year of surgical residency at Vanderbilt University after taking a year away from surgery and pursuing an Anesthesia Critical Care fellowship .  He attended the Unversity of Louisville for his undergraduate degree in Biology as well as his medical degree. His interests in medicine include global health including the burden of trauma in the developing world.  He is also interested in surgical education and hopes to be involved in training opportunities in the future that inlcude the development of medical systems and physicians overseas.  He enjoys traveling and spent 8 years of his childhood in Kenya as the son of missionary parents.  He has also done medical work internationally in several countries in south east Asia, Latin America and the Carribean. Michael is excited about his global health elective in surgery at Kijabe hospital in Kenya and looks forward to the opportunities he will encouter while on this rotation.

Vivian Lei

Vivian Lei is a second year Emergency Medicine resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She became interested in global health as an undergraduate at MIT while studying mechanical engineering. At that time, she worked on developing low cost technology solutions to improve everyday life in rural Zambia and Kenya. As a medical student at Stanford University, she continued to apply her engineering knowledge toward innovative health solutions by designing a way to address the health burden caused by dirt flooring in Rwanda. This effort led to the co-founding of a not-for-profit organization that now trains and employs local masons in Rwanda to build earthen flooring which is more affordable, locally sustainable, and healthier. Her major clinical interest is exploring novel approaches to healthcare in low-resource settings. She is thrilled to be working in Georgetown, Guyana where she will have the opportunity to provide clinical care in the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation Accident and Emergency Department, as well as deliver bedside education and didactics to local resident physicians.

Katie McGinnis

Katie McGinnis is an MPH student in the Global Health track at Vanderbilt University.  Originally from Dallas, TX, she received a BA in Psychology with a Pre-Medicine specialization from the University of Colorado in 2007.  During college, she realized the best way to combine her passions for medicine, psychology, and working with children would be to enter the emerging field of Child Life, so shortly after graduating she completed the requirements needed to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). She worked as a CCLS helping children and families cope with difficult medical experiences in children’s hospitals in Colorado and Florida until 2014, when her growing interests in global health led her to move to Uganda for 10 months.  During her time in Uganda, she worked with two native ministries on a variety of community development projects and also helped establish a new health clinic in a remote village.  She decided to return to the US to pursue her MPH degree so that she will be better equipped to implement successful and sustainable child health initiatives in developing countries.  This summer she will be working alongside local healthcare workers in 3 different children’s hospitals in Eldoret and Kijabe, Kenya to improve psychosocial care services for children and families dealing with illness, injury, and hospitalization in low-resource settings.

Joseph Reardon

Joseph M. Reardon, MD is the International Emergency Medicine Fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He works at Georgetown Public Hospital in Georgetown, Guyana, where he teaches resident physicians in emergency medicine. He is particularly interested in advancing graduate medical education and quality, high-value, cost-effective care for those in great need. He holds an MD cum laude from Harvard Medical School and completed emergency medicine residency at Duke University in the global health scholarly track. He has experience working throughout the Americas.

Craig Sheedy

Craig Sheedy is a third year emergency medicine resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. A native of Tempe, Arizona, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Arizona before completing his medical degree at Vanderbilt University. While in medical school, he expanded his interest for providing medical care in resource limited-settings both locally and abroad. He provided regular medical care and served on the Board of Directors at the Shade Tree Clinic - a free clinic providing comprehensive patient-centered care to an underserved population in East Nashville. He also volunteered abroad for a medical clinic in Costa Rica, while undergoing a month-long immersion in medical Spanish. He is excited for the opportunity to work at the Georgetown Public Hospital in Georgetown, Guyana providing both medical care and bedside teaching to members of the Guyana Emergency Medicine Training Program. As a Frist Global Health Leader, he hopes to gain a deeper appreciation for public health topics surrounding emergency medical care in a developing country.

Kristen Smith

Kristen Smith is a Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and a recent graduate from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.  Her passions lie in delivering health care to vulnerable populations—particularly in a primary care setting that places an emphasis on preventative health care.  She first travelled to Argentina with Vanderbilt in 2013 to work with Fundación Infant, and focused on preventing pneumonia in infants with bronchiolitis secondary to the common illness respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).  Kristen worked for a year in the foster care program Casa de Esperanza in Houston, Texas before returning to Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing in 2014.  During her graduate education she continued to pursue her interest in Global Health through completing a certificate in global health, working with refugee populations as a volunteer in Siloam Clinic, and traveling to Nicaragua to deliver medical supplies as part of a Vanderbilt global health course.  She is grateful for the opportunity to spend 12 weeks in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala in Primeros Pasos Clinic to assist with coordinating a school-based program in reproductive health education.

Grace Umutesi W. is a 2nd year MPH student in the Global Health track at Vanderbilt University. Originally from Rwanda, she moved in the US as a Rwanda Presidential Scholar to complete her undergraduate studies at Oklahoma Christian University where she obtained a BS in Biology with a Pre-Medicine specialty. Growing up during the post-genocide period in Rwanda and witnessing and living through cholera, polio, typhoid, malaria, and high mortality rates, she developed an interest for Global Health at a very young age.

Moved by the needs that surrounded her, she decided to make her way towards the Medical field so that she could be part of the generation that built strong heath systems on the African continent. She has been part of several community outreach programs in Rwanda and in Summer 2016, she was a fellow at the CDC in the Global Immunization Division in Atlanta. During her time at the CDC, she worked with the Polio Eradication Initiative to evaluate the performance of the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance in several African countries. She was sent to Conakry, Guinea to support to the MOH and the in-country WHO team with the AFP surveillance activities. Later on, she was deployed to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the Yellow Fever Outbreak Response Team to help with the preparation for the mass vaccination campaign targeting 12 million people.

As a Frist Global Health Leader, she is working with AIC Kijabe Hospital and Maseno University to evaluate the impact of the Kenya Registered Nurse Anesthetist (KRNA) training program on Obstetric Outcomes in Western Kenya. During her time in Kenya, she will be visiting nine different facilities in Western Kenya where she will be administering surveys in order to understand the environments where KRNAs graduates have been placed and some of the challenges that are faced in those facilities in order to provide safe surgery and anesthesia care. She will also be gathering information about the job satisfaction of the KRNAs and the perception of the local communities on obstetric care services. 

Christopher Wahlfeld

Christopher Wahlfeld is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, where he is enrolled in the Global Health track of the Master of Public Health program. Originally from Peoria, Illinois, Christopher received a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell College in Iowa, and holds a Master of Arts in anthropology from the University of Montana. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Buffalo in 2009.

Christopher enjoys exploring the boundaries and permeability of health and human adaptability within cultural, biological, and ecological contexts. He is particularly interested in the health issues faced by remote populations, and the local innovations employed to mitigate such problems. He has worked previously with Hmong refugees in Missoula, Montana, and made several journeys to Ladakh, India, where he has researched antenatal care practices and maternal and child health at high-altitude.

Christopher will be spending his summer with Lwala Community Alliance in Migori County, Kenya, and is looking forward to the opportunity to learn best practices from those who are regularly doing the work on the ground. Based out of the Community Health Office, he will be working closely with community health workers and Lwala staff on the HIV/AIDS and WASH Integrated program (HAWI) and Lwala’s Thrive Thru Five initiative.

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