The Canadian Global Health Students & Young Professionals Summit (GHSYPS) is a space for students and young professionals involved or interested in global health to network and learn.
As the Speakers and Programming committee, we had the privilege of developing the summit theme and program, recruiting and collaborating with global health professionals and leaders, organizing the research poster presentations and facilitating the sessions.
We all came from global or public health backgrounds and wanted to build a space for students and young professionals to develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their global health journeys.
When we were graduate students, we found conferences and summits, similar to the GHSYPS, to be an excellent way to learn, network, and be inspired by leaders in our industry.
Additionally, we wanted to create a summit program that would inspire young leaders in the global health field.
We strategically chose a variety of speakers that would bring diverse perspectives, knowledge, and career advice to our attendees.
The theme focused on pressing global health challenges, such as climate change, and we strived to develop sessions that focused on practical skillsets for attendees to tackle the world’s most pressing global health challenges.
Finally, we wanted to advance our collaboration and event management abilities. Our roles as Speakers & Programming leads were unique in that we had the opportunity to collaborate alongside the Logistics, Communications and Finance teams to implement and scale this event!
Organization is the most essential skill to succeed on the committee. We started planning for this summit six months before it began to ensure that speakers and presenters were contacted with ample time to prepare their speeches and workshops. We were also mindful of meeting our goals and tasks in a timely manner since many of our other committee members’ responsibilities relied on our tasks being completed first.
Secondly, communication skills were vital to being an influential committee member. GHSYPS is composed of all young professionals who simultaneously balance jobs, school, and other personal commitments. We had to communicate effectively to ensure all aspects of the summit were covered by one of the teams. It was essential to have clear and concise communication while speaking with potential speakers, outlining the event details, action items, and other critical information to help them prepare for the summit.
Adaptability was also critical – especially when planning for a virtual conference during the pandemic. Our team had to innovate and find creative ways for speakers to interact with attendees on a virtual platform and for multiple presenters to share their research, while keeping the audience engaged. As expected, we faced challenges along the way – such as difficulties with a novel platform that we used called ‘Hopin’ and with a speaker not being able to attend the night before the summit. Our team’s ability to adapt and find solutions to move forward was vital for our success.
We learned the importance of leaning into our networks to identify speakers who can inspire the next generation of global health professionals and promote our event to attract young and innovative minds.
Even as committee members, we had the opportunity to facilitate and sit in on speaker sessions, keynote speeches and the career panel. We learned an immense amount about scientific communication, historically marginalized communities, the importance of community engagement and qualitative research methods in global health work.
Lastly, we saw how motivated and intelligent young global health professionals are, and we are excited to see what the future holds as they involve in their careers. We, too, felt inspired to see so many young individuals join forces to learn, collaborate, and make a difference in our world.
The short answer is: it is super FUN!
Being on the GHSYPS committee was such a rewarding experience, especially to see our months of hard work translate into a meaningful experience for the summit attendees. We also harnessed many new skills while organizing a virtual conference and networking with professionals.
This event also allowed us to illuminate global health themes that we feel are important for the global health community to discuss to create a more equitable future.
Finally, this was a fantastic way to make new friends and meet global health leaders!
If you have any more questions, please feel free to reach out to us on LinkedIn to connect:
Lisa Stallwood – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisastallwood/
Christina Ricci www.linkedin.com/in/christinaricci1
Shatabdy Zahid – https://www.linkedin.com/in/shatabdy-zahid