Notre Dame graduates receive send-off from global health leader

Author: Sarah Craig

On Saturday, July 30, 2016, the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health program held its 5th Commencement exercise, graduating 21 students with the professional degree of Master of Science in Global Health.  The year culminated with a capstone project in which students fulfilled their research requirement in 10 different countries including Belize, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Moldova, Peru, Thailand, Uganda, the United States, and Zambia.


With their newly acquired skill set and global health knowledge, graduates of Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health program are now pursuing a variety of opportunities including medical school, appointments with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, international non-profit organizations, local health departments and hospitals, and positions with Harvard Medical School’s Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, just to name a few. The program now has 99 alumni who are placed around the world dedicated to improving health and addressing health disparities in resource-poor locations. 

The Commencement speaker, Rachel Vreeman, MD, MS, is the Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Joe and Sarah Ellen Mamlin Scholar for Global Health Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Vreeman’s stellar career as a global health professional has spanned many areas of medicine and research most specifically in the areas of pediatrics and HIV/AIDS. “When I look at the health of a community, I first look at the health of the children,” she stated early in her address.

Vreeman told a story about working in the field of global health and the importance of bearing witness. “In our work it is important to know what we can and cannot do as a doctor, as a researcher and as a human being. Sometimes we cannot fix things but we can make them better,” stated Vreeman. “Be present, look for the grace to be present” stated Vreeman.

“Her message that we should ‘bear witness’ was a beautiful theme from a global health leader who has many accomplished years in the field. So many young professionals going into this field want to be Rachel. We were lucky to have her address our class and send our students off with a message of leading by example,” states Katherine Taylor, Associate Director of the Eck Institute for Global Health and Director of Global Health Training.


In her many positions, Vreeman’s research focuses on improving the provision of healthcare to children within resource-limited settings, focusing on supporting children’s adherence to HIV therapy, disclosure of HIV status, and other HIV-related health behavioral challenges for children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, Vreeman serves as the Director of Research at the Indiana University Center for Global Health and the North American Director of Research for the AMPATH Research Network in Kenya. Notre Dame is also in partnership with AMPATH which provides comprehensive HIV treatment for over 150,000 patients in Kenya and includes a broad research network with over 120 active research protocols in Kenya. Vreeman chairs the Pediatric Working Group for the global IeDEA (International Epidemiologic Databases Evaluating AIDS) consortium, a global consortium of HIV care programs funded by the National Institutes of Health. She is a member of the steering committee for the International AIDS Society’s pediatric program.

Vreeman graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University. She received her MD from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and completed her internship, residency, and a chief residency in pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She also completed a fellowship in Children’s Health Services Research and a master’s degree in clinical research at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The Eck Institute for Global Health is a university-wide enterprise that recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low and middle-income countries, who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases. For more information about Notre Dame’s Master of Science in Global Health degree program, visit: here


Originally published by Sarah Craig at on August 05, 2016.