The student delegation representing the Colorado School of Public Health from left to right: Claire Tucker, Burke Healey, Jake Hanrahan, Alan Curtis, Tyler Harth, and June Homdayjanakul

Over the last weekend in March, six Master of Public Health students from the Colorado School of Public Health at Colorado State University braved a barrage of unexpected Northeast snow to attend the Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Although ColoradoSPH has sent students to this conference before, a team of six is unprecedented in the history of the program.

Put on by well-known international non-profit Unite for Sight, the Global Health and Innovation Conference is the world’s largest global health conference and the largest social entrepreneurship conference. Attendees include 2,200 professionals and students from all 50 states and more than 55 countries. The goal of the conference is to exchange ideas and best practices across disciplines in order to improve public health and international development.

Students representing several different Master of Public Health concentrations attended the conference, including those from Global Health and Health Disparities, Animals, People, and the Environment, and Health Communication. “It has been pretty neat to be able to both network with so many new people, as well as also bounce ideas off of my friends and classmates to take back to CSPH,” noted Jake Hanrahan, a first-year Global Health and Health Disparities student. “The cool thing about global health is that it is such a supportive and creative community. Being able to attend this conference has opened my eyes to so many practicum and career options.”

The conference keynote speakers were a highlight of the weekend for the students. Burke Healey is a first-year Global Health and Health Disparities student with a passion for international government service. “My favorite keynote was from Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the Rwandan Minister of Health. She is an inspirational example of why we need strong, well-spoken, smart leaders in government,” said Burke. “She makes what these NGOs and social entrepreneurs do possible.” Other keynotes included Dr. Joia Mukeherjee, the Chief Medical Officer of Partners in Health, and Ned Breslin, the Chief Executive Officer of Water for People, a Denver-based non-profit.

Some students were more attracted to the entrepreneurial aspects of the conference, such as Alan Curtis, a first-year Health Communication student. “I spent the majority of my time at the conference in social entrepreneurship breakout sessions hearing brief pitches from startups and new non-profit organizations,” said Alan. “The candor of the pitch judges combined with the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs has gotten me interested in non-profit start-up management.”

This was the 12th Annual Global Health and Innovation Conference, and Unite for Sight already has plans for its 13th: April 16-17, 2016, again at Yale University.