Undergraduate awarded national Newman Civic Fellowship for work in global health

As the daughter of a doctor, junior MIKA KOCH has always been interested in medicine. But after participating in a global health online academy in high school that brought together students from Japan, Malaysia and other parts of the world, she realized that what works in one place might not work in another. She has since been committed to developing a nuanced understanding of how to improve human health effectively on a global scale.

Koch, a human biology major, has been recognized for her work as a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Stanford President MARC TESSIER-LAVIGNE recommended her for the award, which honors student leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions for complex social and environmental challenges.

Mika Koch
Mika Koch (Courtesy Haas Center for Public Service)

Koch spent the summer after freshman year working in a rural hospital in Kenya to gain experience and an understanding of their needs. Last year, through a Stanford in Government Fellowship, she worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Innovation Service in Geneva, Switzerland. In this role, she contributed to the UNHCR Innovation Women Series, which highlights the perspectives and challenges of women working in the humanitarian field. She also helped develop an analytics engine to predict the influx of refugees and internally displaced people from Somalia to better prepare the regional office.

“People on the ground know their circumstances, and they know what needs to be done much better than we do,” Koch said. “In the humanitarian sector, our goal is to listen, support and catalyze their creativity on the ground. They are agents of their own protection and their voices must be at the center of everything we do.”

“To all of her work, Mika brings humility, genuine concern for others and a contagious optimism for what is possible,” said DEBORAH STIPEK, the Peter E. Haas Faculty Director of the Haas Center for Public Service. “We are so pleased to see her honored for her commitment to making a difference on and off campus. She is poised to become a distinguished leader in the field, and she exemplifies the commitment to service that the Newman Civic Fellowship represents.”

Koch plans to spend the upcoming summer doing research that will look at female health-seeking behavior in hospitals following the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, which currently has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. She said research will be unlike any of the field experiences that she has had so far and will be invaluable as the next step in her exploration.

To read the full article go to the Haas Center for Public Service website.