VCU’s Humphrey Fellows Participate in New Collaboration
Cassie Williams Jones
University Public Affairs
The Virginia Commonwealth University’s 2011-2012 class of Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows - the sixth cohort of distinguished international scholars - kicked off a partnership with Virginia State University (VSU) on Monday at an event for all program participants and organizers.
The collaboration, an extension of the Humphrey Fellowship program, includes a partnering of graduate students in the health psychology Ph.D. program at VSU and the Humphrey Fellows at VCU to develop effective local health campaigns that can be informed by global perspectives.
“The outcomes of this program will benefit the populations of both universities, as well as the Petersburg and greater Richmond communities,” said Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D., VCU’s vice president for research.
Keynote speaker, U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, outlined new priorities under health care reform, which includes mental health, encompassing substance abuse and addiction. Preventive mental health policies and drug rehabilitation initiatives exemplify the types of goals set for collaboration.
“By sharing their expertise, the VCU Humphrey Fellows and VSU students will have an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of the community, while also learning about each other’s cultures,” said J. Randy Koch, Ph.D., executive director for the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies and associate coordinator of the fellowship program.
The VCU Humphrey Fellowship Program is a yearlong leadership training program that combines academic, practical and cultural activities. The international fellows are mid-career professionals who have been contributing to research in drug and alcohol prevention and the public health field at VCU and in the community during their time in the United States. This year’s fellows are:
- Dr. Tin Moe Aung, from Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), worked as township coordinator for HIV/AIDS-related projects for the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime. She hopes to use her fellowship year to enhance her knowledge and practical skills in the prevention of substance abuse in order to improve prevention programming and aftercare in Myanmar.
- Natalia Estoyanoff, from Montevideo, Uruguay, serves as regional coordinator for networks of local community-based drug abuse prevention providers for the government of Canelones in Uruguay. During her fellowship year at VCU, she would like to improve her knowledge and practical skills related to the design and implementation of effective community-based prevention programs.
- Rogers Kasirye, from Kampala, Uganda, is currently executive director of the Uganda Youth Development Link, and serves as scientific advisor to the Mentor Foundation and as chairperson of the East Africa Policy Alliance, an NGO consortium. During his fellowship year, he wants to learn more about substance prevention and policy work in the U.S. and explore ways of improving the policy environment in Uganda.
- Dr. Laith R. Khalil, from Balad City, Salahudin Province, Iraq, worked as a specialist surgeon in the Balad City Hospital Department of Emergencies and Accidents, where he treated many casualties resulting from drug and alcohol abuse. His goal for his fellowship year is to gain the required knowledge and skills to help addiction sufferers in Iraq by learning about the most effective and proven treatment and prevention practices.
- Lionel Kulathilake, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, is an attorney and community corrections officer in the Department of Community Based Corrections under the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms. During his fellowship year, he plans to enhance his knowledge of substance abuse treatment and prevention, particularly for criminal justice populations.
- Pansak Pramokchon, from Bangkok, Thailand, is lead overseer for the Thai FDA’s information technology project on inter–governmental agency information exchange. His fellowship goal is to expand his professional experience in institutional management and policy formation in order to better prepare the Thai FDA for the challenges of global change.
- Pedro Augusto de Andrade Rodrigues, from Rio de Janiero, Brazil, is the Alcohol and Other Drugs program coordinator for the entire western region of the City of Rio de Janeiro. His fellowship goals include enhancing his knowledge of successful treatment and prevention programs in order to adapt them to the specific needs of the Brazilian population.
- Dr. Aizhan Zhumasheva, from Aktobe, Kazakhstan, is director and founder of the Center for Psychotherapy "Imaton”, where she works to develop and implement harm reduction programs. During her fellowship year, she seeks to acquire knowledge and practical experience related to drug abuse treatment and prevention services in the U.S.
Since 2006, VCU has been designated a Humphrey Campus for Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Policy. The VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies serves as the administrative home for the program. The fellowship program, a Fulbright exchange activity, is administered by the Institute of International Education. The program brings established health professionals from developing countries to VCU for two semesters of study and related professional experiences.