Global Health Studies alumna talks medicine, mentorship and being grateful

By Mira Wang (Medill '18)

Dr. Julia Polk knows a thing or two about the path less taken.

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2007 with an anthropology major, global health minor and international experiences in Mexico and South Africa, Polk, whose name was Harris as an undergraduate student, went to Brazil for a year to conduct global health research at the National School of Public Health in Rio de Janeiro. Right afterwards, she moved to Beer Sheva, Israel, for a medical degree at Ben Gurion University, followed by an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Now, she works as an OB/GYN and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai in New York City.

But Polk’s international experiences didn’t end with medical school; she still completes weeks-long trips in rural medical facilities in Liberia two to three times a year. Just this past June, she went to train nurses and midwives in the field.