Pursuing professional development

Julia Corey ’19 heading to New Zealand for global health conference with help of Wagner funding

During the past three years, Julia Corey ’19 has interned at a refugee center in South Africa, collaborated on mental health services in Ireland and conducted research on family planning in Rwanda. Now, the international relations major is heading to New Zealand to attend a conference to network with health professionals from all over the world, as well as present research.

Her latest trip adds yet another stamp to her passport and a stepping stone to the future in global health that she has planned. The conference opportunity comes courtesy of Wheaton’s Wagner Professional Development Program, which was created in 2017 to help students defray the costs of off-campus career-related activities, including travel expenses associated with internships, professional conferences and fellowships. The endowed fund was made possible by Sukey Nichols Wagner ’56.

Corey is one of 14 students who were awarded funds this academic year, including four students who recently were approved to attend the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Neb., in May: Henry McKain ’21, a double major in business and management and economics; Jordan Stout ’21, a double major in physics and computer science; Jevaun Quinn ’21, a double major in business and management and economics; and Daniel Krause ’21, who has not yet declared a major.

(Read more from a few of the past Wagner award winners below.)

From April 7–11, Corey will be attending the International Union for Health Promotion and Education World Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand, at which participants will address pressing challenges in global health.

“Attending the conference is an unparalleled opportunity to expand my professional network and build meaningful connections in the global health field, particularly with individuals who have worked at major international institutions like the World Health Organization [WHO] and the United Nations,” Corey said. “And presenting research at the conference as an undergraduate will no doubt set me apart from other candidates in future positions I will apply to.”

The chance to network is just one reason why Ben Chalot, senior associate director of career services, urges Wheaton students to seek out these kinds of industry-specific resources and opportunities and apply for funding.

“By attending professional association conferences, students are able to network with experts, see firsthand what the latest developments are within a field and make connections that can help when it is time to apply for a job and/or graduate school,” Chalot said.

In addition to meaningful mingling with professionals, Corey is looking forward to learning about and exploring different perspectives on health.

“Embracing indigenous knowledge and understanding is something I feel is crucial in our increasingly globalized world,” she said.

Corey, who is pursuing a minor in public health, has indulged her interest in people, other cultures and politics through coursework, study abroad and internships.

An internship in Rwanda in summer 2018 is the source of the research she will be presenting in New Zealand. She participated in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation and traveled to Rwanda with professors from Western Washington University and other undergraduate students to conduct field research on the country’s highly successful family planning program.

“Our research project sought to better understand how Rwanda has more than doubled its modern contraceptive prevalence rate in just five years,” Corey said. “We are using our results to draft a number of papers to submit for peer review, and eight of our abstracts were accepted for presentation at the conference.”

Her prior internships also provided valuable experience and research opportunities. In summer 2017, while interning as a Davis International Fellow at the Cape Town Refugee Center in South Africa, she developed an HIV/AIDS support group, in which clients shared their difficulties and frustrations with accessing proper medication and health care. In fall 2017, she worked with Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine in Dublin, Ireland, and had the chance to provide input on legislation regarding mental health services and drafted a proposal for a pilot program that would provide a 24/7 psychiatric emergency services unit at a Dublin hospital. During winter 2017, she also interned at the Mattapoisett (Massachusetts) Board of Health, funded by Wheaton’s Winternship program.

All of the experiences have prepared her well as she wraps up her Wheaton journey and pursues big plans.

“I will be attending Trinity College Dublin for my M.Sc. in global health,” Corey said. “In the future, I hope to work toward increasing access to health care for refugees and asylum seekers. I am interested in working at an international organization such as the WHO. Ideally I would also like to create an NGO in Cape Town that would work to foster learning and understanding between local health care practitioners and the many migrants in the city, to reduce xenophobia and improve accessibility to these services.”