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Alumni Spotlight: Pat Casey, GlobeMed at Truman State University '11

This is a story of a young GlobeMed leader finding his role in the movement for global health equity.

An Eye-Opening Freshman Year

“GlobeMed allowed me, as an undergraduate, to actualize my interests in global health and foster pragmatic change through the power of movement-building and most importantly, the unwavering support of like-minded people.”
Pat Casey, Truman State ’11

Patrick Casey entered Truman State University in the fall of 2007 with what he describes as “pre-med tunnel vision.” He wanted to help people, and clinical experiences in high school had sold him on the idea that delivering care in a hospital was the best approach.

By chance, Pat’s freshman year at Truman State coincided with the launch of the university’s GlobeMed chapter. At the chapter’s first interest meeting, Pat was introduced to the field of global health.  He describes being drawn immediately to the organization, a community of people who identified with “his goals, passions, and beliefs.”

“It was a humbling experience,” said Pat of his first year in GlobeMed. He became exposed to vast inequities in health around the world – a stark contrast to what he had encountered.  He recognized how much he needed to learn in order to become an effective advocate for change.

In Pat’s freshman year, GlobeMed at Truman State University launched a partnership with Maison de Naissance, a maternity center and birthing clinic in Haiti that provides high-quality, free services and resources to the surrounding rural communities. GlobeMed’s model of partnership, which empowered students to directly support the clinic’s lifesaving work, inspired Pat.  He quickly rose to leadership in his chapter.

A Moment of Clarity

Through his work with GlobeMed and conversations with peers and mentors, Pat reached a moment of clarity: he wanted to dedicate his life to bringing healthcare to people who were being denied it.

“My incentive had changed in that it had gained a new face and a new population: the people living with HIV in Southeastern United States.”

By the time he was a junior, Pat’s passion led him to be elected co-president of GlobeMed at Truman State University. As graduation inched closer, Pat wrestled with plans for the future.

“The one thing I knew and loved was my work with GlobeMed…I wanted to do something that would act on the idea of health as a human right,” said Pat.

At his first GlobeMed Summit, Pat had met Dr. Evan Lyon, an American physician working to advance the health of patients in Haiti. Four years later, at his last Summit before graduation, Pat reached out to Dr. Lyon again.

Nick Reynolds from GlobeMed at Loyola, Pat, and Chris Perkins from GlobeMed at Rhodes in a small group discussion 2011 Summit.

That Saturday morning, Pat sat down with Dr. Lyon and came away with two important and shocking facts:

1. There are incidences of HIV in the United States that match those in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Haiti.

2. Focus has shifted away from this tragic and persistent problem.

Here was Pat’s second moment of clarity: Abject poverty and suffering were occurring in his own backyard. Dr. Lyon connected Pat to staff at Medical Aids Outreach (MAO), an organization addressing the HIV crisis in the rural American south. After a summer of classes, Pat moved down to Montgomery, Alabama.

Working Towards Health Equity in Montgomery, Alabama

Today, Pat describes his new home as an “emotional place.” Places like Montgomery and Selma, Alabama were early think tanks for civil rights movement-building. Now, decades later, entrenched inequality continues to perpetuate the suffering of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

Pat Casey at the 2012 Summit

Pat speaking on the 2012 Summit “Vision In Action: The Access2Care Initiative” panel with Victor Barnes, Interim President and CEO of AIDS United (left) and Will Rutland, A2C Coordinator at Medical AIDS Outreach.

Since joining the MAO team in September, Pat has worked alongside the staff to help launch Alabama’s first HIV specific telemedical network. This network allows rural Alabamans to access medical care, consultation, and support through mobile technology. Innovative technology like telemedicine is playing a crucial role in bringing medical care to the most isolated communities in the U.S. and abroad.

Pat’s journey in GlobeMed came full circle when, two weeks into his new position at Medical AIDS Outreach, he helped launch a partnership between MAO and GlobeMed at Princeton University. As the chapter’s contact at MAO, Pat is mentoring the next generation of GlobeMed students. This summer, he will oversee a Grassroots On-site Work (GROW) internship at MAO for chapter members from GlobeMed at Princeton.

The Road Ahead

In the Fall, Pat will continue his path to become a leader for global health equity by entering the Masters in Public Health program at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. There, he will study health behavior in the department that served as a crucial catalyst for MAO’s telemedicine network.

Pat’s involvement in GlobeMed at Truman State empowered him to think critically about his role in health. Leadership experience and mentorship equipped him with the personal and professional skills to join the fight for health equity. Today, GlobeMed continues to serve as the launching pad for Pat’s lifelong commitment to global health and social justice.

Thousands of GlobeMed students across the country are engaged in stories just like Pat’s. Together, they make up a pipeline of leadership for global health equity.

This summer, Pat will cycle from San Francisco, CA to Boston, MA will cycle with 19 others on a 4,100-mile journey to raise money and awareness for the work Partners in Health is doing in Rwanda to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Go Pat!  Support his Ride Against AIDS here.