Incoming freshmen interested in participating in global public health education, investigation, and service are now invited to apply for a spot in the Global Health Initiative’s (GHI) direct admit program.
Wabash’s GHI is a collection of opportunities that allows students to learn about and work in global public health in and out of the classroom and to serve communities locally, regionally, and internationally.
GHI’s direct admit program is a new, highly competitive program designed to provide Wabash students a cohort experience throughout their freshman year and a guaranteed summer internship in global health after their freshman or sophomore year.
Additionally, direct admits will have the opportunity to participate in an immersion learning experience in Peru, South America, during their freshman or sophomore year. Created by and serving the mission of the Wabash GHI, Global Health Initiative-Peru Association cooperates with the College in promoting community health and improving the quality of life of people in impoverished communities in Peru.
GHI Director and Biology Professor Eric Wetzel has been leading the Peru immersion experience for more than 10 years. He said students who travel to Peru as a part of the course will have their eyes opened to the reality of how difficult it can be for some communities to have access to health care.
“We work alongside community members as we interact in the context of the three programs of GHI-Peru Association,” Wetzel said, “Vida Sana, a community health program in Lima designed to develop leadership in women and to support healthy lifestyles; Crediendo Juntos (Growing Together), a program for children in both Lima and the mountain city of Huánuco, Peru, that teaches healthy habits for them and their families; and Corazones Excepcionales (“Exceptional Hearts” or COEX), a program for children with Down Syndrome in which we work with university partners to teach these children fundamental skills in speaking, reading, and life. It’s also a program that works with families, as well.
“Wabash students participate in these ongoing programs as well as learn about different levels of the Peruvian healthcare system,” he continued. “In addition, we interact with Peruvian students as we travel to the three major zones of Peru. It’s an amazing experience and is incredibly formative, particularly for students early in their Wabash education; I’m so grateful that we get to do it.”
The GHI’s impact inspired Dr. Frank Kolisek ’82 and his wife, Lisa, to support the internship aspect of the program through the Kolisek Family Health Innovation Fund. Established as part of the Giant Steps Campaign, the fund is designed to incubate, catalyze, and support innovative programs and initiatives that serve to enhance and expand the College’s record of student success in medicine and health-related professions.
Frank is a member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the GHI advisory committee. He is an Indianapolis-based and internationally-recognized total joint surgeon with OrthoIndy who specializes in the treatment of hip and knee arthritis. Lisa is a registered nurse who retired after the birth of their second child. She has served on various community and educational boards. The two are parents of Jake ’11, Charlie ’14, and Kelsey, a 2016 graduate from Denison University.
“We are grateful for the vision of Frank and Lisa in creating the Kolisek Family Health Innovation Fund. They are generous supporters of Wabash committed to the College’s success and to making a range of experiences possible for Wabash men,” said Dean of the College Todd McDorman.
“Their Health Innovation Fund will have a tremendous impact at Wabash, beginning with making transformative internship opportunities available through the GHI. We are fortunate to have alumni and donors who support innovation and recognize the importance of extending the application of liberal arts learning into a variety of contexts.”
As a GHI member, students will learn professional skills that are transferable and highly desirable for most careers including effective communication, data analytics, program development, empathy, and cultural competence.
Jill Rogers, pre-health advisor and program coordinator for the GHI, said at its core, global health is a liberal arts pursuit.
“Global Health requires students to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to understand complex ideas and find creative ways to problem-solve,” Rogers said. “This is fantastic preparation for our future doctors, and also for our future business leaders, lawyers, and change-makers. A liberal arts education and the GHI is a perfect training ground for students who want to take on the important challenges of our local, regional, and international communities.”
In a typical summer, the GHI sponsors around 30 student internships. Students have gained transformative experiences serving in various roles working for public health organizations like the Montgomery County Health Department, Franciscan Health, Crooked Creek Food Pantry, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, and Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR).
Jacob Ramirez ’25, a biology major and history minor from Alamo, Texas, spent three weeks working with the GHI-Peru team, providing health assistance to various communities across the country. His responsibilities varied day by day, but he said each was “full of new lessons to take home.”
“From spending time observing and interacting with individuals with Down Syndrome, having personal and insightful conversations with underprivileged mothers, and providing advice and guidance to school children,” Ramirez said, “I made it a priority to give it my all to ensure I was providing appropriate assistance.
“As I have now realized, the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Everywhere I went in Peru, I approached every situation with an open mind ready and willing to experience new things,” he said. “After my internship concluded, I was truly humbled and thankful for all the opportunities I have been given.”
Seven spots are available for students interested in participating in this year’s GHI Direct Admit Program. The application is open to all majors and can be completed at apply.wabash.edu/register/GHI_DirectAdmit.
The deadline to apply is April 5, 2024. The College will begin notifying recipients on or after April 19, 2024.