Response Online


From the Senior Editor

Helping People Thrive

Jennifer Johnson Gilnett

In her later life, my paternal grandmother, Ida Johnson, trusted her
health to a doctor who had spent 25 years practicing medicine in rural
areas of Africa. Grandma told me that when she felt like complaining about a minor ailment she often thought of her doctor treating women who faced extreme health challenges such as life-threatening childbirths, infected wounds, and malaria and other diseases. Her physician’s life story gave her
an appreciation for good health, Grandma said, and opened her eyes to the health needs around the world.

This doctor who cared for my grandmother is Doris Hunter Wilson ’47. Graduating from Seattle Pacific College with a desire to help people and to share her faith, she attended medical school and set out with her husband, Talmage Wilson ’47, to South Sudan, Namibia, and South Africa. Typically the only doctor in a remote, sometimes politically unstable region, she learned to speak multiple languages in order to communicate with the people she served. While working in South Sudan, she was able to determine that the cause of a deadly, mysterious disease in her patients
was a tiny parasite.

Today, Doris is watching as the new field of global health — characterized by an unprecedented collaboration among business, government, education, charitable foundations, faith-based and secular humanitarian organizations, and individuals — explodes with energy and innovation in the Pacific Northwest. In this issue of Response, Professor of Geography Kathleen Braden describes the remarkable makeup and influence of this 21st-century movement to improve the world’s health, and the emergence of Seattle as one of its leaders. She also notes the strong interest today’s Seattle Pacific University students have in global health careers.

Not surprisingly, SPU faculty, students, and alumni are making significant contributions in the new world of global health. These contributions span academic disciplines, geographical locations, and job descriptions. You’ll read about Nancy Andrews ’86, who heads SCOPE, a nonprofit organization working with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to help more people gain access to AIDS treatment; Kristen Eddings ’06, who directs communications and facilitates strategic partnerships
at the Washington Global Health Alliance; and Jeff Guderian ’90, who researches cures for tropical diseases in a Seattle laboratory. Their stories and the stories of many others are in the pages that follow.

A Seattle Pacific Medallion Award winner for her contributions to medicine and ministry, Doris Wilson, now 87, still practices at the Shelton, Washington, family clinic she joined when returning from Africa. She supports the next generation of SPU students through scholarship gifts, because she believes those students will go on to help people thrive and to model Christian love throughout the world. Because these students are inspired by the world’s need, their location in a global health hub, and an SPU legacy of Christian service and holistic health care, I believe she’s right.

Jennifer Johnson Gilnett