Health Care Management & Policy Senior’s Research Focuses on COVID-19

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December 10, 2020 – Samantha Schlageter (NHS’21), a senior health care management & policy major, has pursued several academic and extracurricular opportunities at Georgetown, including COVID-19-related research with Dr. Rebecca Katz and Allie Reichert of the Center for Global Health Science and Security and Dr. Michael Stoto of the Department of Health Systems Administration.

“My involvement with research at Georgetown has brought my classroom education to life, and Washington, DC, the heart of health policy in the United States, has provided a landscape for unparalleled research opportunities,” she said.

Samantha Schlageter stands in an autumnal woods.
 Samantha Schlageter (NHS’21)

Question: Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about Georgetown?

Schlageter: I was born in Boston, but then moved to Paris for five years. When I was in second grade, my family then moved to Pennsylvania, where I’ve lived ever since. I learned about Georgetown through a family friend whose son attended the university. No one in my high school had ever gone to Georgetown, so when I was accepted into the university, I was excited to explore a new world. 

Question: What drew you to want to study in the health field?

Schlageter: During a high school soccer game, my opponent’s foot perfectly connected with my face, fracturing my eye-socket and leaving me without vision. Because I lived in rural Pennsylvania, a place where seeing a horse-and-buggy is more likely than seeing an ambulance, it took over an hour for an ambulance to transport me to a hospital. My family and I spent the next week trying to find a local surgeon, but there were limited opportunities for specialized care in our area, so I traveled to Philadelphia, the nearest major city, for reconstructive eye surgery. Navigating Pennsylvania’s rural health system made me interested in improving health systems, so when I stumbled across the health care management and policy (HCMP) major at Georgetown, I knew I needed to apply. 

Question: How are you enjoying the HCMP major and Georgetown?

Schlageter: The HCMP major is honestly one of my favorite things about Georgetown. The School of Nursing & Health Studies is such a tight-knit community, so I’ve been able to create really strong bonds with my HCMP peers and professors. HCMP is also such an uncommon major; there are only a handful of undergraduate programs like this in the country, so I know that I am getting a unique academic experience at Georgetown.

Beyond HCMP, Georgetown has allowed me to interact with such interesting people who have such different backgrounds, and, in connecting with these people, I’ve also been able to explore different parts of myself. For example, some of my friends are really connected to their religion, and they introduced me to Georgetown’s spiritual retreats (which are overnight stays in the woods that foster a reflective space outside the hustle-and-bustle of campus). Some of my other friends are choreographers for Rangila, the university’s philanthropic South Asian dance showcase, which pushed me to become a dancer in Reventón, the university’s philanthropic Latinx dance showcase. Another one of my friends was involved in trying to exonerate a wrongfully accused man from prison, sparking my interest in law. Georgetown has also enabled me to make lifelong friendships while studying in Galway, Ireland, further develop my skills as an artist, and visit the U.S.-Mexico border where I spoke with immigrants and learned about their lived experiences. Ultimately, my educational experiences at Georgetown go well beyond the classroom, and the people behind these experiences are what make me so grateful to be a part of the Georgetown community.

Question: Tell us about the activities and research you are involved in at Georgetown.

Schlageter: The main activities that I’ve been involved with at Georgetown are the Georgetown University Sailing Team (abbreviated to “GUST”), Georgetown Global Consulting (GGC), and being the unofficial campus bagpiper. 

When I visited Georgetown during the accepted-students day, my dad and I saw a pamphlet that showed sailors wearing Georgetown jerseys. Having sailed my entire childhood, I knew I wanted to be involved, so I eventually connected with the sailing coach and walked-on the varsity team. Little did I know that the GUST is one of the top-ranked sailing teams in the country, consistently churning out Olympic sailing athletes.

On campus, I also devoted my time to Georgetown Global Consulting, a student-run 501(c)3 non-profit that does pro-bono consulting for nonprofits around the world. Throughout my time at GGC, I was a consultant, project manager, and mentor to other students, and this experience helped me line up options for my professional career. 

Lastly, I let out the secret that I did competitive bagpiping in high school, so I became the unofficial campus bagpiper, honoring veterans at multiple Veterans Day ceremonies and performing at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

In terms of research, I interned for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Spring 2020, and I was lucky to connect with certain professors early on in my Georgetown career. I specifically connected with Professor Michael Stoto, a professor of health systems administration and population health in the NHS. Under his guidance, I helped a hospital conduct their community health needs assessment in summer 2019; I received the Kalorama Research Fellowship, a research grant for independent undergraduate research, to write a case-study of a community’s response to COVID-19 during summer 2020; and I am currently working on another research paper about the epidemiological analysis of the COVID-19 outbreak in this community. Professor Stoto has also involved me in a research paper about COVID-19 seroprevalence surveys in New York State, and he is my faculty mentor for my honors thesis on COVID-19 excess mortality. Professor Stoto has been a great mentor, and I am always thankful for his guidance and support.

Most recently, I completed my HCMP senior capstone internship at the Center for Global Health Science and Security (CGHSS). The senior capstone internship is required by every HCMP major, and I was lucky enough to work under Professor Rebecca Katz and Allie Reichert, my direct advisor, at the CGHSS. 

During my internship, I coded for a COVID-19 policy visualization tool called COVIDAMP, and I wrote a research brief about mandated flu vaccines and how flu vaccines may foreshadow the challenges/opportunities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. I enjoyed my internship so much that I will be joining the CGHSS team as an undergraduate research assistant next semester. My involvement with research at Georgetown has brought my classroom education to life, and Washington, DC, the heart of health policy in the United States, has provided a landscape for unparalleled research opportunities.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Schlageter: I recently was recruited to Deloitte Consulting to be an analyst in their government and public services practice where I would be working for federal health clients, such as the CDC, CMS, HHS, etc. I also submitted several research fellowship applications for next year, but I am still waiting to hear back from those organizations. Eventually, I hope to receive my master’s degree in public health or attend law school with a focus on emergency preparedness and biosecurity. The future looks bright! 

By Bill Cessato