Making a Tangible Difference: The Changemaker
James W. Curran Scholar
Global Health, Community Health and Development Track, MPH ‘19
Certificate in Social Determinants of Health
“I think what I’ve liked the most about being here at Rollins is being able to interact with such a large community of scholars of color. When I walked in the first day as a global health student, I said, 'people look like me.'”
Ever since she was young, Theresa Bailey has been passionate about other cultures. After graduating from Yale with a degree in Spanish, she spent three years doing global field work through two fellowships—first, researching rates of teenage pregnancy in Mexico and later working with a small nonprofit in Nicaragua that focused on community development and engagement. For Theresa, it wasn’t just a love of languages that sparked her interest in other cultures, it was also understanding how culture embodies the past and what it can reveal about current inequities.
After applying and being accepted into a number of top-ranking schools, Theresa ultimately chose Rollins for its location—she’s from Georgia—its career network, and its faculty. Given her area of interest, the Hubert Department of Global Health proved a natural fit.
“I think being able to think on a high-systems-level as to why determinants of health are the way that they are, and why they persist in the way that they do is just a never-ending puzzle,” she says. "Every day in the program, I feel like I’m learning something new and interesting about regions around the world."
She adds, "The men and women who are my faculty here are incredibly talented. Being able to say that I have meaningful conversations and troubleshoot problems with Dean Curran, or being around people who have been paramount in establishing protocols for the elimination of smallpox, or developed diabetes research that is revolutionizing how people think about chronic disease in India is incredible!"
Theresa has continued to build onto her own impressive resume while attending Rollins. This past summer, a Global Field Experience enabled her to travel to Mexico City and work in an HIV clinic. She’s using data from that trip to form the basis of her thesis, which explores how HIV-positive adolescent men experience concepts of masculinity and how their experiences of masculinity shape their behaviors.
She’s currently doing related work through her Rollins Earn and Learn position at the CDC, where she assists the Gender and Youth Team in identifying ways in which men and boys can be better engaged to prevent HIV and violence, specifically gender-based violence.
Theresa’s passion for making a difference also shows in her volunteer work both on and off campus. She’s the recent past president of the Association of Black Public Health Students and is currently a Rollins Student Ambassador and the student representative for the school’s re-accreditation committee. Theresa became engaged with the Atlanta community through volunteer work with Ventanilla de Salud at the Mexican Consulate. Using her bilingual skills, Theresa was a friendly face and a helpful resource for people receiving free health screenings while they waited for their visas, green cards, and renewals to be processed. "Being able to volunteer with something like that really made me feel like I was doing something tangible in real time for the people who needed it."