Franke Global Leadership Initiative in Action

Sophie Friedl ’16, a sociology major with minors in biology, global public health and international development studies, participated in the Franke Global Leadership Initiative (GLI). She shares what the experience was like and how it helped her develop her career goals.

How was your Franke GLI experience meaningful?

Before I came into college I wasn’t set on doing international work. But, my Franke GLI freshman seminar class, Green Cities, changed my mind. It laid the groundwork for the rest of my education.

Tell us about your beyond-the-classroom experience. You received a scholarship through the Davidson Honors College to be able to participate.

As a premed major, I could apply for the Global Grizzlies trip, which is specifically for pre-health professionals. We worked in a rural hospital in Uganda for a month in the summer of 2015.In a third-world country like Uganda, I saw a lot of easily prevented diseases.  I witnessed a really unfortunately C-section – the baby died because the mom contracted malaria, which is a really common complication in that region. There wasn’t much the doctor could do at that point, but someone in public health could help prevent those tragic situations. It really influenced me. I ended up switching tracks and, this fall, I started my master’s in international public health at University College Dublin in Ireland.

What was your favorite or most challenging part of participating in the Franke GLI?

Watching the C-section in Uganda forced me to look at my life differently. We had thought it was going to be a normal birth, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t. And that was really scary. Seeing a pregnant teenager come in and lose her baby to malaria was truly heartbreaking. It showed the huge differences between health and medicine in the first world and the third world.

Did the Franke GLI change you and your future goals?

Definitely. The experience opened my eyes, changed my perspective and ultimately helped me get into graduate school.

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