Mika Koch, a junior at Stanford University, has a deep commitment to making advances in healthcare available to the world's most vulnerable people and to realizing health as a human right. Her service in global health is noteworthy for its substance, duration, and breadth-from a rural hospital in Kenya to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Innovation Service in Geneva, Switzerland. Mika serves as president of Stanford's Partners in Health (PIH) chapter and on the organization's national steering committee. She began her work with PIH as a first-year student and has since helped double the number of students involved in the organization. Mika's dedication to universal health has infused her academic and research endeavors, including a major in Human Biology, with a focus on Global Women's Health, and minor in Human Rights. She was selected to be an undergraduate participant in the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health's Think Tank and planning committee for the Global Health Research Convening Conference. To this work, Mika brings humility, humor, and an unyielding optimism for what is possible.
I believe that health is a human right and its effective delivery foundational for success in the humanitarian sector. Throughout my work, I've been struck by the complexity of the problems on the ground and the insufficiency of a single approach in addressing the issues of vulnerable populations. At Stanford, I've been president of the Partners in Health chapter for two years, was recently appointed to the organization's 12-member National Steering Committee and have worked closely with Stanford's Center for Innovation in Global Health. In the field, I've worked in a rural hospital in Kenya, where significant numbers of our patients died when the economic, social, political and cultural systems conspired against them. This highlighted the power of both top-down and bottom-up approaches necessary for success. I subsequently worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee's Innovation Service in Geneva where I learned that the knowledge of needs, resources, and changing circumstances resides most accurately with those who are themselves displaced, and success in the field is fundamentally about empowering individuals to be agents of their own protection. It is to effectively serve in these communities that I have committed to a life of international service.