A Look Back: My Experience at the Emory Global Health Case Competition

The Emory Competition Participants (Credit: Tony Benner/Emory Global Health Institute)
How many opportunities do you have to interact with students from various parts of the country as well as the world on a global health platform? How many opportunities do you have to present a business proposal in front of prominent international health policy officials? I’m not sure, but I know that the 2013 International Emory Global Health Case Competition was incredible.

After my team won the USC Global Health Case Competition in February, the five of us worked with the USC Institute for Global Health to prepare for the international competition at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 23, 2013.
Downtown Atlanta
My team and I woke up at 4:30 am on Thursday, March 21, to catch a flight to Emory. We got off the plane looking a little haggard from lack of sleep, but the welcome we got was amazing; Emory greeted us with welcome signs and open arms. Throughout our time there, they fed us great Southern food (I ate grits for the first time!) and actually made sure we didn’t forget to eat each meal on the day before our competition.
Our presentation was judged by two very well-respected officials—Lincoln Chen, president of the China Medical Board, and Jaehyang So, the Manager of the Water and Sanitation Program at the World Bank. I walked into that room terrified, but I knew that this was a rare and amazing experience. I was proud of how we performed in such a setting, and we waited until all of the teams had competed.
While we didn’t make it to the finalist round, my teammates and I greatly enjoyed the feedback that the judges had to offer. But perhaps the most amazing experience was watching the finalist presentations. It was incredible to see the parallels that could be drawn between presentations that made it to the final round, and those that didn’t. Many elements of our presentation aligned with one school, and as I later found out, other finalist presentations were very similar to additional non-finalist competitors. I realized that so many of us came up with such similar ideas. It was inspiring to know that my ideas were comparable to the ideas of people who were five, or even 10 years older than me—and consequently had more life and health experience than me.

CDC across the street from our hotel 

Following the competition, we were able to meet Dr. Sara Mirza, all thanks to Dr. Wipfli. Dr. Mirza is an epidemiologist at the CDC and also served as a judge for USC’s internal competition. Over dinner, we discussed her work as well as our own professional aspirations. She offered me great advice that has since encouraged me to seek out my interests more often and take more chances.

Dinner with Dr. Sara Mirza

The amount of energy at this conference was indescribable and unlike anything I had experienced before, but I enjoyed it immensely. There was so much passion and drive in everyone I met, and though we were all competitors, we were also all friends. I met some amazing people that I truly hope I keep in touch with. I would definitely say that this spring break was definitely like no other. I never thought I would say that I would choose to and enjoy spending my week off poring over research and data, but the Emory competition definitely made it a worthwhile experience.