Exploring the full breadth of Northeastern’s experiential learning opportunities along with participating in research, Rima Sheehab discovered her passion for social justice with a special interest in health equity. Her major in the Human Services program allowed her to create a network and bring awareness to the magnitude of health disparities.
Here is Rima’s story…
Rima created a path of engagement by using the local and global opportunities that Northeastern’s Human Services program provided. Her customized specialization in community health taught her about the “upstream” approach to healthcare — a holistic lens which considers the effect of individuals’ environments on their health.
For example, an Alternative Spring Break trip she took to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma helped her learn more about Native American revitalization efforts and the negative health effects of rural poverty and food deserts. During a Human Services Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC), Rima was offered the opportunity to volunteer at Vision of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia, where she was able to work with young women to further their knowledge of basic reproductive health and hygiene. Her efforts and research at Vision of Hope laid the groundwork for the implementation of a sustainable capacity-building project for the organization.
Upon returning to Boston, Rima’s passions drove her to use the knowledge she gained from her global experiences to resolve complex health issues in her own community.
Rima’s work and daily life at Northeastern helped her both understand that health is a human right and recognize health disparities in relation to socioeconomics, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Being in the diverse city of Boston allowed Rima to involve herself with service-learning work at several organizations, including the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club of Roxbury, 826 Boston, and the United South End Settlements. Her co-op brought her to Boston’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health, where she engaged in LGBTQ+ health education and recruitment for clinical trials. These experiences provided Rima with a rich foundation for pursuing health equity.
Rima graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services, two minors in Health Sciences and Global Social Entrepreneurship, and a specialization in community health. Some of her favorite courses included Sociology of Health and Illness and the Epidemiology of Pandemic Diseases & Health Disparities in the African Diaspora. Rima’s extensive coursework in human services and public and community health helped her tackle health equity issues in various contexts and diverse communities with confidence.
Rima was on the CSSH Student Advisory Council and served as a CSSH Ambassador. She was a member of the Hawaii Ohana at Northeastern University club (HONU), END7 at NU — a student initiative devoted to ending neglected tropical diseases — and the Health Disparities Student Collaborative (HDSC). As a leader of the Pan Asian American Queer Alliance (PAAQA), she participated in Northeastern’s Annual Reach(OUT) LGBTQA+ Career Conference as a speaker and workshop panelist, sharing her experiences of being a queer woman of color in professional spaces.
After graduating from Northeastern University, Rima joined IHI as a full-time Project Coordinator on the Africa Team. She has worked on projects in Uganda, South Africa, Liberia, and Malawi. There she has supported Ministries of Health to develop National Quality Strategies and run capability-building activities and quality improvement trainings. Outside of IHI’s Africa Region, Rima has collaborated with 13 major healthcare systems to test international health innovations in U.S.-based hospitals.
Currently, Rima is supporting the MaMoni Maternal & Newborn Care Strengthening Project in Bangladesh and the 100 Million Healthier Lives (100MLives) movement. Through 100MLives, Rima has been able to apply the knowledge and experience she gained at Northeastern by focusing on the social side of health and examining the social determinants that impact population health.
Her human services background has prepared her to facilitate challenging conversations about health equity in the U.S. and across the world. She hopes to continue finding a range of learning opportunities and communities so that she may improve health through both traditional and non-traditional avenues that bridge the social and medical sides of healthcare.
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