Grace Ruffin ‘22 pursues work with North Carolina Global Health Alliance

By Kistler Hunt

Appalachian State University Honors College alumna Grace Ruffin ‘22 has been working with the North Carolina Global Health Alliance while pursuing a Master’s of Public Health (MPH), focusing on Maternal, Child, and Family Health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC). This is the top public, public health school in the United States. Ruffin explains that the NC Global Health Alliance is “an organization that seeks to facilitate and foster collaboration among North Carolina’s global health entities to further global health research and improve health outcomes worldwide.”  

Photo features Ruffin at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Photo submitted. 

Ruffin shared that the uplifting atmosphere of the Honors College helped her succeed in her MPH program and with the NC Global Alliance. She highlights,

 “As I continue my academic career at Gillings, I am still incredibly thankful for my time at App State, the amazing public health faculty, and the support of the Honors College community who shaped me into the student and person that I am today. I truly would not have made it through undergrad without them…More than anything, I believe that having an academic community within the Honors College that supported and believed in me really enhanced my self-confidence as a student.”

Ruffin graduated with a Bachelor of Science in public health and a minor in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies. Ruffin is a woman of many talents. During her time at App State, she served: as the President of the Appalachian Public Health Club, a Peer Educator with WECARE, a manager for Appalachian’s men’s basketball team, and as an Honors College Student Mentor, among other roles.

For her Honors College thesis, “Racial Disparities in Maternal and Child Health: A Social-Ecological Perspective,” Ruffin worked with Dr. Adam Hege, associate professor in the Department of Public Health and Exercise Science and Honors Academic Mentor for the Beaver College of Health Sciences, as her director. Jennifer Schroeder Tyson, lecturer in the Department of Public Health and Exercise Science, and Monica Verhaeghe, adjunct professor in the Department of Public Health and Exercise Science, served as second and third readers, respectively.

Many aspects of her Honors experience, mainly her Honors seminars and her thesis, have directly supported Ruffin’s current work in her MPH program. She states,

“The collaborative atmosphere within our Honors seminar courses prepared me most for my work in graduate school. A lot of grad courses are discussion and lecture-based, and require extensive critical thinking skills. I feel like I developed these skills and gained experience with smaller group discussions in my Honors courses at App State. Writing my Honors Thesis, which was the most challenging academic endeavor I had undertaken at that time, also prepared me for the rigor of graduate-level work.”

Ruffin began working with the NC Global Health Alliance started in March of her senior year before she graduated, and her involvement with the organization has increased since then. Ruffin currently serves as the Career Development and Community Engagement Specialist for the Alliance. In these roles, she manages the organization’s social media pages, keeps the website up-to-date, and plans annual events, including the NC Global Health Annual Conference. Ruffin learned about this opportunity to work at the Alliance from a fellow student at UNC and accepted the position soon thereafter. Remarking on her experiences with the Alliance, Ruffin says, “It has been an amazing opportunity to learn about major public health entities throughout North Carolina, and the world, and has connected me with some really cool people who are doing important work.”

Ruffin will complete her MPH in the Spring of 2024. This summer, Ruffin is thrilled to be working for NC Medicaid, serving as a Student Evaluator on their Quality Measurement team. Ruffin’s time at UNC has helped her narrow down her future goals and interests. Ruffin states that her current interests are “the intersections of health systems, health policy, and maternal health equity,” but she says that “as long as I am working to improve the health outcomes of women and their babies, I will feel fulfilled.”


Top photo features Ruffin. Photo submitted.

Published: Jun 6, 2023 4:06pm