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September 29, 2008

Expanding UAlbany's International Profile One Student at a Time

School of Public Health student  abroad.

School of Public Health students come from around the world. 

Carol Whittaker of the University at Albany's School of Public Health has logged many miles around the globe to find just the right graduate students. She travels so often, her passport is thick with added pages.

Through the Edmund Muskie Freedom Support Act Fellowship Program, she interviews candidates for a graduate fellowship. The Muskie fellowship was designed after the fall of the Soviet Union to bring young professionals to the United States to study fields that will help their countries.

"Now that I'm leading our global public health activities for the School of Public Health, the word 'global' is omnipresent in my vocabulary," said Whittaker, a clinical associate professor in the dean's office and director of the University's Center for Global Health. "For the past 10 or 12 years, I have been bringing international students to the school, many of them from the former Soviet republics. They, and all of our international students, enhance our programs and community significantly," Whittaker said.

Recently, greater numbers of UAlbany students have sought public health internships abroad. "Our students have spent summer internships in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Haiti, and Mexico all places where public health needs are great," she added.

Her latest trip took her to Turkmenistan, in Central Asia. In Turkmenistan she visited Ashgabat, which was "stunning, unexpectedly stunning," with glistening white marble neo-classical buildings. In Ashgabat, gasoline is the equivalent of eight cents a gallon and electricity is supplied free, with buildings lit up all night.

Since 1995, when Whittaker was instrumental in having public health added as a discipline of study under the Muskie program, UAlbany has educated more than three dozen Muskie fellows, who earned their Master of Public Health degrees through the School of Public Health.

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