News Story

Global Health Senior Plans Career in Health Law and Governance

March 10, 2020 – Luisa Ferrari (NHS’20) is a senior global health major. Last semester, she completed the Department of International Health’s 12-credit practicum at the World Health Organization’s Africa Regional Headquarters in the Republic of the Congo. Ferrari, who is now interning at the CDC Washington office, is planning a career in health law and governance.

Luisa Ferrari poses in front of flowers at the WHO regional office in the Republic of the Congo
Ferrari during her research practicum abroad at the WHO

Question: Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about Georgetown? 

Ferrari: I grew up in North Carolina. Both my parents are physicians, and I have always admired their decision to dedicate their lives to caring for others. I first learned about Georgetown’s global health program when my dad brought me to DC for one of his work trips. I knew it would be the perfect place to build off the lessons my parents taught me and contribute to the global development agenda by becoming a member of a community of men and women for others.

Question: How are you enjoying the global health major?

Ferrari: I can honestly say the incredible learning and work opportunities I have had over the last four years would not have been possible without the global health major. When I first visited Georgetown, I sat in on Dr. Myriam Vuckovic’s class on global health promotion. I was excited to learn she was actually headed to Tanzania the same day I visited her class because it showed the department’s commitment to working with students in the international health sector beyond Georgetown’s main campus. I am lucky to now call Professor Vuckovic a mentor and have taken three of her courses. I love being a part of a program where I have the opportunity to learn from both passionate teachers and fellow students who are all dedicated to having a lasting positive impact on the global community.

Question: Tell us about your research practicum abroad in the Republic of the Congo.

Ferrari: During my time at the World Health Organization’s Africa Regional Headquarters, I worked in the health systems and governance unit. As an intern in the unit, I helped develop a $5 million program of work for the department’s biennial budget request and worked on the 2019 midterm review of Eritrea’s health sector. I also helped prepare presentation materials for WHO team leads and attended conferences in Cameroon, Eritrea, and Ghana. Working at WHO illustrated a number of the lessons I had learned in my global health classes about how international organizations work with national governments to strengthen health systems.

Luisa Ferrari with the National Mall behind her in a photo taken from the Speaker's Balcony of the U.S. Capitol Building
Ferrari at the Speaker’s Balcony of the U.S. Capitol Building

Question: What does your current internship at the CDC involve? 

Ferrari: CDC’s Washington, DC office serves as the primary point of contact between Congress and CDC’s subject matter experts in Atlanta, providing technical assistance on public health policies and rapid responses to Congressional inquiries. As an intern, I get to work on a comprehensive range of health policy issues from CDC’s HIV initiatives to the role of women in global health. Some of my responsibilities include drafting targeted outreach materials for Congress and analyzing federal legislation that affects CDC programs. Currently, our office is focused on the COVID-19 response efforts, and I have had the incredible opportunity to assist with hearing preparations and attend response coordination meetings. Every day in the office brings a new challenge, and I am grateful to be learning about the inner policy workings of an infectious disease outbreak response from the talented group of experts in the CDC’s Washington, DC office. 

Question: What other activities are you involved in at Georgetown? 

Ferrari: During my time at Georgetown, I have found some great communities through the clubs I have been a part of, including the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, Black Movements Dance Theatre, and the DC Schools Project. I have volunteered in the hospital’s surgical waiting room and with One Tent Health, an organization founded by two Georgetown alumni that provides free HIV screening and health counseling to underserved DC communities. I also really enjoyed the time I spent as a peer advisor and research assistant for the Department of International Health. Under Dr. Jennifer Bouey, I conducted research evaluating China’s health insurance reimbursement payment reform and coded qualitative interviews assessing the health care access of African migrant communities in Guangzhou.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Ferrari: In the future, I hope to continue combining my passions for health care and policy through a career in health law and governance. I aspire to one day be in a position to write legislation that will increase health care access and affordability for vulnerable populations both domestically and internationally.