Next chapter

This is a bittersweet post. It is sweet that many members of the UHRA are getting increasingly busy with interesting projects outside of the UHRA: it is sweet that Hayley’s startup, ThriveHire is a huge success, for example; and it is sweet that I am going to medical school. It is bitter, however, that these competing priorities mean less time to dedicate to the UHRA. And it is bitter that after 5 years in existence, the UHRA will cease its activities in the summer of 2019.

But it is sweet that in its 5 years of existence, the UHRA has achieved a lot, both for the world of global health, with our podcasts, social media, and newsletters. Those will continue to be accessible on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter indefinitely, so that you can access these resources if you ever need them. Or if you ever feel nostalgic (I know I will). It is also sweet that through the UHRA, we have been able to meet the most interesting, articulate, and smart people. And I like to think that we have also contributed a little more knowledge to the world of global health. Onward. 


                        -Stephanie, UHRA President, July 2019. 

Getting to know people, the good and the bad

By Stephanie Parent, UHRA President

Ah, networking! You wouldn’t know, but I am a pretty staunch introvert. Which doesn’t mean I am a social recluse curled up with a book most of the time (that’s a misconception about introverts that needs to go). But it does mean that networking does not come naturally to me, and can be quite exhausting. I would prefer avoiding small talk with strangers when I can. But can I?


For our UHRA podcast, I have been interviewing many prominent people who work in the global health field. Our mission is to bring scholars together to discuss health issues affecting sub-Saharan Africa and in doing so, help emerging global health researchers get a foot hold in the field. As such, I always ask my interviewees what advice they have for emerging professionals, and without exception, they all say: “Get to know people! Develop relationships with people who do what you want to do!”. Which is not always the answer we want to hear. Sometimes, the answer we want to hear is “work really hard, or read this many articles, or learn to write well”. But no. It seems that relationship-building is an essential skill.


Reflecting on my own work in global health, the truth is, a lot of this work is about relating to others, and often others who have little in common with you, be it in terms of age, experience, status, or (obviously) culture and ethnicity. But the good news is that relationship-building and networking is a skill that comes with practice (and for me, it took A LOT of practice and awkward conversations). If you’re one of those people who is naturally the centre of attention and gets invited to dinner with a stranger’s family five minutes after meeting them thanks to your 99%th percentile charisma, good for you, but move on, this blog post is probably not for you. But if, like me, you are someone for whom small talk does not come to easily, know this: you may be feeling awkward and bored talking about the weather or something mundane, but trust that this conversation will lead to something more important. Either you will make a new connection (rarely, and at best), or at least, you will have gone out of your comfort zone and took a step towards this relationship-building skill that is so important in our field. Good luck!