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Global Health Center bids farewell to colleague and friend

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

Ericka Hayes, MD, Washington University associate professor of pediatrics has given a tremendous amount of support to the Global Health Center as a colleague and leader of the Summer Research Program-Public & Global Health Track, and to the Institute for Public Health as a Faculty Scholar. She is leaving Washington University in St. Louis for a faculty position at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and as Senior Medical Director of Infection Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Leaders there also appreciate her exemplary experience and talents.

Ericka Hayes Photo credit: KWMU-FM, St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Hayes brings a wealth of clinical knowledge and expertise, and rich leadership experience. We have been impressed with her deep commitment to mentorship and education, as exemplified by her leadership of the SPRIGHT program.

Audrey R. Odom John, MD, PhD, division chief of Infectious Diseases, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

For several years, Hayes has helped lead the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Public & Global Health Track at WashU and established the Summer Pediatric Research in Global Health Translation Program (SPRIGHT) funded by the Children’s Discovery Institute of Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The scholarship honors several students each year with funding, which enables them to attend the Summer Research Program.  

“Establishing the SPRIGHT program and being involved in the mentorship and support of a diverse group of young people has been incredibly meaningful for me,” Hayes said. “These students are discovering and learning about global and public health careers as well as completing worthwhile research to start to build the next generation of experts who will contribute to pediatric health. Every summer, I find my spirit and passion renewed from working with these students.”

Professor Hayes encourages other WashU faculty to consider engaging with the Summer Research Program. “I am so grateful to my colleagues who have participated as mentors in this program, which would not be the program it is without them,” Hayes said. “I think they find the students as inspiring as I do…some of the faculty will be mentors to these students for life, which is incredible. For students, we have worked to make sure we are giving a well-rounded experience…focusing on understanding the tools of the work and the landscape–both culturally and ethically.”

She has some advice for students in global health and for those who, from the start of their academic careers, may not think of global health as a top option.

There is no one correct path or one correct timeline. I think that sometimes students think that if they don’t figure out that they want to do public or global health by a certain point, than it’s too late. That is not the case, and I am an example of that. It is important to emphasize how your career and focus will change and evolve. I know very few people who started out in one area, who didn’t also continue to grow and take on new challenges and roles, which is incredibly exciting.

Ericka Hayes, MD

Gracious as always, Hayes had a few words of praise for the Global Health Center staff before heading to Philadelphia. “Being able to work with the Global Health Center has been a true inspiration for me. I cannot say enough about [Center Manager] Jacaranda van Rheenen, who is an absolute superstar. Working with her has been amazing and she is a huge part of the program’s success. The entire institute staff has been so supportive, particularly [Director] Bill Powderly, [Associate Director] Victoria Anwuri, and [Global Health Center Coordinators] Jeanie Bryant and Katie Crowder.”

When speaking with her colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis, it’s evident that Professor Hayes has made an impact. Several wanted to send her off with kudos and acknowledgements of her work and friendship. She will be sorely missed.

Dr. Hayes is an outstanding friend and colleague who is always willing to help, no matter the situation nor the time of day. I have called her frequently in the evenings and weekends and she is always pleasant, responsive and there to offer great help! We have had a lot of fun over the years with the rivalry between our favorite teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. I always loved her spirit and dedication to the Raiders, despite the fact that the Chiefs are THE BOMB! She is also the best trivia person I know…I am truly going to miss her and the many wonderful conversations, both medical and non-medical, that we have had over the years, but, I am sure I will be texting and trolling her during football season!

Jason Newland, MD, MEd, professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases & vice chair of Community Health & Strategic Planning, Washington University in St. Louis

I have worked with Dr. Hayes for the past eight years and will truly miss her generous and positive outlook on life! Dr. Hayes is a one-of-a-kind person who has a tremendous impact on everyone around her through her great leadership and mentorship! For me personally, she was more than a fantastic colleague whom I could always call on and brainstorm ideas with, but also a great friend. I am very excited for the new phase in her career and look forward to our paths crossing again.

Jacaranda van Rheenen, PhD, manager of the Global Health Center at the Institute for Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis

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