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Kristin Kalla

Position and company: International Public Health Consultant
Country of work: New Zealand
Degree Attained at UCLA: MA in African Studies and MPH in Community Health
Graduation Year: 1992 and 1993
How did the coursework and research you did while a student at UCLA prepare you for an international career?
The coursework and research I undertook at UCLA, particularly on the dual masters program in Public Health and African Area Studies with an emphasis on medical anthropology, provided me with a solid academic foundation for an international humanitarian career. The rigorous curriculum helped me to develop a nuanced understanding of the social determinants of health, cultural health beliefs, and healthcare systems in Africa. I took part in extensive research projects as a student in Egypt, applying anthropological methodologies to understanding complex health issues, which often required an intersectional approach. These experiences not only endowed me with robust analytical skills but also equipped me with the cultural sensitivity required to work effectively in diverse environments. Furthermore, public health courses gave me a comprehensive knowledge of epidemiology, health systems and health policy-making, crucial for effecting positive change in health outcomes at a population level.
Can you speak a little bit about your career and how it has progressed since graduating from UCLA?
After graduating from UCLA, I embarked on a dynamic 30-year journey in public health and social justice. My work led me to sub-Saharan Africa, during the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic collaborating with organizations like the United Nations, World Bank and USAID to strategize and implement health initiatives for marginalized communities affected by armed conflict and natural disasters. A significant transition occurred when I joined the Trust Fund for Victims at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, developing programs to support victim survivors. This experience at the ICC enhanced my skills and comprehension of the intersectionality of international law, health, gender, and human rights. Alongside this, I have found fulfillment in mentoring the upcoming generation of public health and social justice leaders.
What do you think are the most important components of educating students to be culturally competent global citizens, no matter their major?
In my perspective, the most crucial components of educating students to be culturally competent global citizens, regardless of their major, are global awareness, empathy, and adaptable communication skills. Global awareness involves a deep understanding of global inter-dependencies, diverse cultures, and world issues. This knowledge allows students to navigate different cultural contexts with ease. Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to understand and feel the experiences of others, fostering a sense of respect and acceptance for diverse viewpoints. Lastly, adaptable communication skills are pivotal for effective collaboration in diverse settings. These skills allow students to engage and interact effectively with people of different backgrounds and cultures, promoting a multicultural and inclusive world view. 
Are you involved in any international UCLA alumni groups or support networks?
A little over ten years ago, I was involved with the School of Public Health who asked me to visit as a guest lecturer to speak with students about international career opportunities. I was also honored in 2014 on the Alumni Hall of Fame Award at the UCLA Field School of Public Health.

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