Joseph Lawrence

“I’ve found people who are willing to invest their time and energy into my professional and personal development. Their influence is crucial.”

GAC Class of 2005 | Global Public Health Professional

For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in science and medicine. My first exposure to the medical field, and my eventual career in global health, started at GAC with medical mission trips to Honduras and later attending an autopsy at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with Tim Ball’s anatomy class. GAC provided me with a strong foundation academically, socially, and spiritually to face challenges in my life and career thus far. What makes GAC unique is the faculty and staff who work tirelessly to set their students up for success in high school, college and beyond.

While studying at the University of Georgia, I traveled with Zambia Medical Mission, a group from Abilene, Texas, to rural Zambia to conduct large-scale medical missions. Through these experiences, I learned that I could make a difference in global health without becoming a physician.

While provision of acute medical care is critical, it is far from enough. To truly tackle larger global health challenges – from the HIV pandemic and Ebola crisis to chronic malnutrition and unacceptable levels of maternal mortality to emerging chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes, in many low-income countries – a larger systems approach is needed. I felt that training in public health gave me an avenue to tackle these challenges.

As a public health professional, I feel blessed to be a part of communities of like-minded individuals who are not only idealists but also have the knowledge and skills needed to create change. I have worked as a Global Health Corps Fellow and I'm currently a ASPPH/CDC Global Epidemiology Fellow in Swaziland. A truly great day is when I am in the field either working on data collection for a study or visiting a partner organization that is implementing HIV or malaria prevention initiatives.

I have been fortunate to have excellent mentors and influencers throughout my young career. Whether I was at GAC, the University of Georgia, grad school, or in Zambia or Swaziland, I’ve found people who are willing to invest their time and energy into my professional and personal development. Their influence is crucial. I’d say that I have learned much more from working with mentors than I ever learned in a classroom. I’m so grateful for the access I’ve had to fantastic mentors.

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