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.


Lorely Chávez

Lorely ChavezLorely Chávez
graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Public Health in 2016 from the University of California Merced where she contributed to multiple health equity initiatives with local immigrant populations. She is currently studying at Vanderbilt University to obtain her Master of Public Health concentrating in Global Health and a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. Her research interests involve working with Latinx migrant communities, developing health workforce programs, and Community Based Participatory Research methods. During her time at Vanderbilt University, Lorely has been enjoying working at the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health (VIGH), where she collaborates with partners around the globe, specifically in Zambia, Ethiopia, and Guatemala, aiming to develop curriculum in leadership and management for health professionals and program evaluation. After obtaining her graduate degrees, she aims to contribute to international organizations that collaborate with local communities in health, social impact, and women empowerment initiatives.


Kristyne Mansilla

Kristyne MansillaKristyne Mansilla is a Master of Public Health (MPH) student in the Global Health Track at Vanderbilt University. She is a scholar in the Fulbright Foreign Student Program and David Satcher Public Health Scholars Program scholarship recipient. Kristyne is from Guatemala, where she completed a medical degree, has worked on several public health HIV projects with LGBTQI communities, and has conducted implementation science research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in rural Guatemala. She is focused on helping underserved populations access quality medical care and achieve equitable human development. After completing the MPH program, she dreams to become a medical scientist and continue to improve public health in Guatemala and Latin America.

Anitha Ndekezi

Anitha Ndekezi is a Master of Public Health (MPH) student in the Global Health track at Vanderbilt University. She is from Rwanda, studied Medicine, and worked for three years in hospitals in Kigali, Rwanda. She has also worked in research as an anthropometrist. Her interests are in social justice and improving and empowering women and girls. After graduating, she plans to work with NGOs that advocate for and implement health-based programs in the community. She also hopes to create a social enterprise that educates and empowers women and girls in knowledge about health issues.

Isaac Schlotterbeck

Isaac SchlotterbeckIsaac Schlotterbeck is a graduate student at Vanderbilt University on a dual degree path of a Master of Public Health in Global Health and Master of Arts in Latin American Studies. His undergraduate degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies from Dickinson College followed by his experience working in the healthcare industry in Washington, DC solidified his interest in these two fields. His research interests include social determinants of health, improving access to health care for marginalized populations, and infectious disease surveillance.

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