Chinasa Ude Imo
Chinasa Ude Imo

We interviewed Nigerian health policy and gender equality advocate and activist Chinasa Ude Imo, MAIDP Class of 2021, to learn more about her background, what drew her to Harris, and her involvement with the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP).

Tell me a little about yourself.

I am from eastern Nigeria, and I am passionate about promoting the welfare of women and children. I lost my mom at a young age due to health complications. When things were rough, I got help from people. I saw that if one person is helped, that person will help another, and that will start a chain reaction.

I went on to study Public Administration and Management and spent a service year attached to the military in Jos, Nigeria. While serving, I saw the impact conflict had on women and children who are vulnerable to gender-based violence, hunger, and poverty.

I became motivated to pursue a Masters in Diplomacy and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos and in 2014 I volunteered to the Ebola outbreak at the Emergency Operations Center in Lagos. Eventually when Africa needed a larger response to the Ebola outbreak, I was nominated to join the African Union- ASEOWA response team in 2014 as a Humanitarian Affairs Officer in Sierra Leone. I provided psychosocial support for Ebola survivors, primarily women and children, and continued to build awareness through messaging.

When I returned from Sierra Leone, I worked with the Stand to End Rape Initiative and The ONE Campaign, developing messaging to meet sustainable development goals and lobbying policymakers to promote policies to end extreme poverty in Africa. After that, I worked a bit with the Nigerian Center for Disease Control to respond to Hepatitis B and conflicts related to the Lassa-fever outbreak. 

I currently work for Evidence for Action (E4A) MamaYe, an evidence-based advocacy program specialized in packaging health evidence for decision making to improve maternal and newborn health.

What brought you to Harris?

Working in public health, I recognized a gap I needed to fill to take my career to the next level and to be able to provide technical support to policymakers. I came to see Harris had a lot of opportunities for me to develop myself professionally in health policy, with a lot of career development workshops and mentorship opportunities they provide to students on an ongoing basis. I was also impressed by the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP) program, to which I applied and was accepted. 

What are some of the opportunities you have had at Harris?

I am a research assistant at both UChicago Medicine Center for Global Health and Advancing Health Equity with the UChicago Biological Sciences Division where I am supporting the team to conduct a case study of their health equity program on improving access to healthcare for black pediatric population in Delaware. My assistantship with the Center for Global Health is through GPHAP, and I work closely with Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade on global health

I’ve also attended lots of workshops and health conferences through GPHAP on COVID-19, equitable access to the vaccine, and the costs of global health. 

Have you made any connections with staff or students who work on similar work to yours?

I have connected with a couple of my classmates whose work/ career interest intersect with my line of work, one of them works extensively on gender equality issues, we share ideas and and support each other’s organization’s programs and act as co-mentors to each other. Laura Botwinick, the GPHAP program coordinator is my go-to person for support and guidance. I also know if I ever have questions, I can email Jamia Jowers, my academic advisor, any time. I’ve shared my challenges and concerns as an international student with her, and she made me feel at home.

Additionally, I have been linked to mentors outside of Harris who are thought leaders in their field as strategists. One of them is Latanya Mapp Frett, the President and CEO of Global Fund for Women, and she provides me with a lot of career mentorship beyond the scope of  academics.