School of Public Health Welcomes First Fulbright Scholar, DrPH Student Grace Korompis

A physician who had practiced general medicine, including adolescent and maternal health, Grace Korompis' experience running a community health center in rural Indonesia led her to a teaching position at a university in Indonesia, where she taught health organization, health planning, biostatistics and epidemiology. Recognizing the limited supply of public health faculty, Grace pursued an MPH with a concentration in Health Services Management at University of South Wales in Australia.

When she was awarded the opportunity to study in the United States as a Fulbright Fellow, Grace began to look for the right program. Among her considerations in looking for the right program were factors such as geographic location, the opportunity to pursue a DrPH or PhD in Health Management, and the research being conducted by faculty. Several additional factors led her to choose the University at Albany School of Public Health, among them the proximity to the state capital and state government; Grace viewed the Albany location as beneficial because of the proximity to state government and was additionally interested in the school's strong partnership with the New York State Department of Health.

She recognized the opportunities available to students in SPH because of this unique partnership and the school's location within the Capital Region and believed these opportunities were important to her in achieving her goals. Additionally, Grace recognized attending an affordable school would allow her to use her fellowship dollars to cover not only her tuition expenses but also some of her living expenses. Combined with her knowledge of the research interests and work of the faculty, SPH became Grace's first choice. She arrived at SPH in the fall of 2012 as a Fulbright Scholar prepared to earn her DrPH with a concentration in Health Policy and Management.

Grace's research interests focus primarily on vulnerable groups of people, particularly minority groups and the autistic populations. She has selected autism as the topic for dissertation and will look at the gaps experienced between minority groups related to early diagnosis. When discussing her research interests, Grace talks about the current situation in Indonesia, and the lack of systems within the country, especially for people with conditions such as autism. She talks about the existence of sporadic, private programs to support those with autism, but points out that Indonesia is a developing country and lacks a government approach to providing services to people with autism as seen in the United States.

Grace has visited and studied early intervention systems in this area and plans to translate what she has learned to support development of similar systems when she returns to Indonesia. When asked about her experience in the Albany region and at SPH, and about what she has liked so far, Grace responds that since arriving at SPH she has appreciated the opportunity to learn, particularly how public health programs are tackled through policy and research. Grace originally arrived in Albany alone, leaving her family home in Indonesia for her first year. Her family has joined her for this school year and will return to Indonesia once she finishes the DrPH program. Her work as a DrPH student and Fulbright Fellow has a personal focus as well. Grace's six year old son, Dicko, is autistic. Both Dicko and Naomi, Grace's daughter, are attending public schools in Albany.