By John Galyas
Before I stepped foot on campus to begin my freshman year at Northwestern, I knew I wanted to join GlobeMed. I had spent the last few weeks of the long summer before my freshman year Googling anything and everything about Northwestern in an admittedly overeager and futile attempt at preparing for the transition to college life. However, it was during these browsing sessions that I first discovered GlobeMed. At that point in my life, I knew I had a vague interest in global health and that as an engineering student, I wouldn’t have room to take many extra global health classes outside of the rigid engineering curriculum.
During my first few weeks on campus, I prioritized joining GlobeMed over the hundreds of other student groups because of the opportunities it provided to engage with global health. Since then, I’ve learned more than I possibly could have imagined as that overeager freshman. My experience in GlobeMed has had a profound impact on my college experience, and it’s an experience I’m incredibly thankful to have had over the last four years. While I’ve certainly learned a great deal from our weekly chapter discussions on global health, I think what has impacted me the most during my time in GlobeMed is the partnership model. As natural as it may seem to focus on sustainability and collaboration in development work, it is unfortunately not always the norm. This has only become more evident to me through my experiences as an engineering student.
At its core, engineering is simply problem solving, but often with an element of technical design. Engineering “culture” doesn’t always prioritize social consciousness and collaboration, particularly in situations related to international development. However, the most elegant and effective solutions to engineering problems frequently incorporate some element of social design. It is crucial to understand how the social world will interact with and utilize technology in order to formulate and design the best possible solution to the problem. Through my time in GlobeMed, I’ve learned the importance of cultural and contextual awareness when analyzing a problem via the partnership model, as well as the always engaging weekly discussions held during our chapter meetings.
The partnership model is focused on building sustainable relationships and solutions – doing so requires keen communication and social awareness. My involvement in GlobeMed has allowed me to gain intimate familiarity with the partnership model and it has provided me with a unique perspective in my engineering training – a perspective that I believe will make me a more effective engineer as I graduate and launch my professional career. At the end of the day, what is most important to me is that my work will directly improve the lives of people everywhere. I firmly believe that GlobeMed has provided me the perspective required to utilize my technical skills in order to develop the best solutions to maximize the effectiveness and impact of my work.