Emily Cotter was a Student Ambassador for the Global Network in 2009. She has blogged for us in the past, and today she reflects on her experience advocating for NTDs.
In November 2009, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases launched their inaugural Campus Challenge, a contest challenging students to become leaders in the fight to prevent, control and eliminate the world’s most common NTDs. I had just returned from Sierra Leone a few months prior, having worked with Helen Keller International (HKI) on their NTD surveillance and control programs. Inspired by the work I had done with HKI, I became a Student Ambassador for the Global Network in order to indulge my passion for advocacy and treatment of NTDs by recruiting other interested students at the George Washington University School of Medicine and leading one of these Campus Challenge efforts.
I knew that many of my fellow medical students were similarly interested in NTDs after recently learning about them from Dr. Peter Hotez during our Microbiology course. A small group of us initially met to brainstorm ideas for the Campus Challenge – activities such as bake-sales, “wormy-grams” for Valentine’s Day, fundraising happy hours, and announcements and coin collections during classes. We also organized alunchtime lecture given by Dr. Peter Hotez; this event educated the greater GW community about NTDs, the Campus Challenge, and ways to get involved with the campaign. At each of our events we mobilized a grassroots NTD army by advertising ways for interested students to get involved and join our campaign at GW. In the end, I had more than 20 students on my email list for the campus challenge!