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The Real World: UVa Global Health Case Competition

By Kelly Mill -
This is the true story of six strangers working against the clock on a serious, real-world problem. Find out what happens when people transform their usual approaches by applying intellect, strategy, and collaboration to a complex global health issue.
Yes, it is true: the University of Virginia Global Health Case Competition has yet to make an appearance on MTV’s coveted Real World programming. However, as the competition returns for its second year at UVa, it promises intrigue and suspense, but via intellectual stimulation.
The case competition is grounded in innovation and collaboration. Colleen Laurence and Pranay Sinha met at Emory’s 2012 Global Health Case Competition—Sinha as a participant representing UVa and Laurence as an organizer. When Laurence came to UVa, the two pitched their idea for a UVa competition to the Center for Global Health’s Director, Dr. Rebecca Dillingham, and in February 2013, their ideas and hard work came to fruition with the first competition.
When it comes to creating the case, Laurence and Sinha emphasized the importance of addressing an issue that necessitates plurality of thought. That is why the Center for Global Health encourages students from all schools of the University to apply to compete. The multiple ideas and expertise of members of a team coalesce, which heightens the resolution of their problem-solving lens as they approach the case.
The competition officially began this Monday, February 24th at 5 PM when the 16 competing teams received the case. Past experiences of participants suggest that current teams may feel overwhelmed. When prompted to recall his reactions as a participant during the week of preparation, Sinha described this overwhelming sentiment: “It was as though I was drinking out of a fire hydrant.”
As the week of competition progresses, the case continues to challenge the intellectual limits of the participants. Sinha described how his team’s “Eureka!” moment did not happen until the night before the presentation. Sreemoyee Som, a member of the winning team at UVa’s first case competition, recounted the commotion prior to their final presentation; they had to awake and summon a team member who had returned home, convinced that the team would not advance.
These anecdotes show the excitement that surrounds the competition, and at the end of the week, the participants’ struggles evolve into something beautiful—a thoughtful, novel, and passionate answer to an emerging and problematic global health issue.
This competition showcases what is possible when we abandon our own assumptions and sharpen our collaborative skills. Laurence described exciting plans to expand the lessons learned from the case competition, which include inspiring an “educational modality that can be used across the University.”
Whether you choose to attend the case competition this Saturday, March 1st from 12:30-7 PM as a spectator, participant, judge, or case writer, the brilliance that blossoms from this unique, inter-disciplinary opportunity will not disappoint.