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Global Health Competition Winning Team Goes to Emory

Monday, March 4, 2019 | By Tierra Baldwin

Five University of Kentucky students placed first in the fifth annual UK Global Health Case Competition. The competition, which took place the week of Feb. 4, rallied both graduate and undergraduate students from various colleges to team up and work toward a common goal – solving a specific global health issue. This year, the issue to tackle was refugee health.

All 10 interdisciplinary teams were given one week to create a strategy with a realistic approach to improving refugee health in the Lexington area. These strategies were then presented to a panel of judges and the winning team was invited to represent the University of Kentucky at Emory University’s 2019 International Case Competition, in addition to receiving a $1,200 prize.

Hina Iqbal, a neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Sciences, said that having the opportunity to begin contemplating complex issues has helped prepare her for her upcoming journey in medical school, which she begins this August.

“Being able to have the opportunity to start thinking about the issues that are facing health in Lexington, how we can employ ourselves, just on our own time, with the ideas that we have and how can we work with other people to start stepping towards a solution.”

Iqbal said that students may feel the pressure of working within a tight timeframe, however, she added that having only a week to work on the campaign can also be a positive.

“I think that the time limit that you have is a positive opportunity to challenge yourself,” Iqbal said. “At the end of that time, you end up realizing how much you were able to accomplish.”

Medical student J.T. Henderson was a member of the first-place team in UK’s competition this year and said that his team was quite surprised by the results.

Henderson and his winning team proposed a community refugee center partnered with a fictional Kentucky university, and other community stakeholders, to provide area refugees with a space of their own where they may address mental health, chronic illness management, and foster community development.

“There were many other details to our proposal, but two of the things that greatly helped our team was our mission to keep refugees at the center of, and involved in, all aspects of our proposal; the second point was that our team worked very well together, brought unique insights from the disciplines represented, and remained open to all ideas in order to make our proposal both powerful and feasible,” Henderson said.  “We had a fantastic experience and learned so much,” all of which they hope will prepare them for the international Emory competition in just a few weeks.

Before attending the competition as a judge, Dr. Lonnie King, emeritus professor and dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University, gave his keynote address on the topic of One Health and what it takes to effectively tackle global health problems, as a team, across the fields of human, animal, and environmental health. Dr. King said that One Health is really about “optimizing the health in three demands; working collaboratively, working interdisciplinary, and working across professions,” in order to resolve public health issues.

King explained how interprofessional education is vital and noted how other forward-thinking colleges are building interprofessional centers on their campuses. As a result, institutions “are not only combining an education of people in cross-professions, but they are now including strategies for innovation so that we will learn to think differently as a group of faculties building ahead,” he said. 

“If you look at the competencies that we believe in for success going forward, there are three that come in mind: ability to communicate, building teams, and systems learning,” he added.

The winning team exhibited the three competencies Dr. King underscored as critical to success in the public health arena.

Volunteer UK faculty, professional and community mentors shared perspective and expertise with participants during team advisory sessions. Dr. Amy Zeidan, mentor and emergency medicine physician at UK Healthcare, was able to provide participants some tips based on her experience working with refugee communities. She highlighted the importance of knowing your audience, content, and established non-profit organizations.

“If it’s a competition for creating something in Lexington, know the non-profit and organizations that exist,” Dr. Zeidan said. This allows you to avoid repeating old tactics and potentially find a partner that will help build your organization.”

This is the fifth year that UK will compete in Emory’s international competition. Emory accepts up to 29 guest-university teams from across the globe. Six students from the University of Kentucky will be competing at Emory University’s International Case Competition on Saturday, March 16, in Atlanta, Georgia.

The winning team included the following students:

•     Carolyn Haugh - Louisville, Kentucky. College of Medicine

•     J.T. Henderson - Danville, Kentucky.  College of Medicine

•     Cady Cornell - Mt. Washington, Kentucky. College of Public Health

•     Keyana Boka - Bowling Green, Kentucky. College of Law and Public Health

•     Mary Sau- Le San Gabriel, California. College of Pharmacy

Second Place Team:

•     Jennifer Leung - Louisville, Kentucky. College of Agriculture, Food, and   Environment

•    Parisa Shamaei Zadeh* - Paintsville, Kentucky. College of Health Sciences

•    Ashley Keohavong - Louisville, Kentucky. College of Arts & Sciences

•    Luke Archer - Louisville, Kentucky. College of Arts & Sciences

•    Kendrick Yuen - Louisville, Kentucky. College of Engineering

•    Umair Bhutto - Louisville, Kentucky. College of Arts & Sciences

*Parisa Shamaei Zadeh will be joining the first-place team as the sixth Emory participant.

Third Place Team:

•     Rachel Poole - Ellicott City, Maryland. Patterson School of Diplomacy

•     Piper Marsh - Charlotte, North Carolina. Patterson School of Diplomacy

•     Tharunika Venkatesan - Lexington, Kentucky. College of Arts & Sciences

•     Mandy Chen - Independence, Kentucky. College of Pharmacy

•     Alexandra Sunnenberg - Lexington, Kentucky. College of Medicine

The annual GHCC takes place every winter and is hosted by the UK Global Health Initiatives office. The competition is partially made possible by a generous gift from Dr. James F. Roark Jr. This year, Executive Director Warren Nash presented a $500.00 gift from the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship to help cover the expenses associated with the 2019 Emory Case Competition. He also tendered his time and guidance to this year’s participants by hosting two presentation development workshops during the competition itself.  

A unit of the International Center, GHI seeks to advance research, education programs and service learning for students and faculty, with the goal of promoting health equity and improving the health of people throughout the world. For more information on Global Health opportunities such as the GHCC, please visit



2019 - 2:00pmMonday, February 4, 2019 to Saturday, February 9, 2019 Share