Photo Credit: Barbara Bush/Global Health Corps
When you are the granddaughter of a president and daughter of another president, you are already in a pretty elite category. Plus, all that exposure to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might give you a healthy dose of presidential ambition for yourself. But that’s not the case for Barbara Bush, one of the Bush twins who calls former President George W. Bush "dad." (Her sister, Jenna Bush Hager, is a correspondent for Today.)
“That is not what I’m looking for," the 30-year-old Yale graduate told me during a rare interview. “I love working on what I am working on.”
What she is working on is nothing short of amazing. Think Teacher for America for public health. Instead of sending college grads from the best and brightest schools around the country (and world) into classrooms, Barbara’s Global Health Corps, a non-profit she co-founded, sends graduates on yearlong fellowships with organizations focusing on global health.
Watch Barbara talk about her mom and dad’s reaction when she told them she was quitting her job to start a non-profit:
Barbara’s hope is that the Global Health Corps fellows – 90 this year from around the world – will stay in the field for the long-term. “We want them to continue to work on these issues throughout their careers, to see how they can move the needle in global health and how they can be change makers in the field of global health,” Barbara told me during an interview on Yale’s campus where the current year’s fellows received two weeks of training, mentoring and professional development.
But public health wasn’t always Barbara’s destiny. She originally wanted to be an architect but a trip to Uganda with her mom and dad, when her dad was still president, changed her life forever. “That was the first time in my life when I saw just how access to medicine can completely change someone’s future and their life,” she said.
This is where sister Jenna comes in. Jenna was at a U.N. Aids Conference and met two people who would eventually become co-founders, along with Barbara, of Global Health Corps. Sisters know what sisters want -- and Jenna seemed to feel that her sister and these two guys could really make something happen so she orchestrated a brainstorming session at her Baltimore home over a weekend. “We realized there wasn’t a program like this, and that there was a real need to invest in a new generation of leaders in global health,” the thankful sister said.
Bush is so impressive, smart and passionate that it’s obvious she’s destined to keep doing great things, which brings me back to how this post started. Okay, so maybe she doesn’t want to enter politics like her dad, granddad – and uncle! (I forgot to mention him at the top, Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida!) But what about being the Secretary of Health and Human Services in a future administration? As she gains more experience, she’d clearly be qualified. But when I mentioned that possibility, this fabulous young woman just smiled and said, “Probably not!”
Her focus now is on growing Global Health Corps to 500 fellows annually. If you are interested in becoming a fellow or know someone who is, check out the program here. If you get selected, consider yourself part of a truly special group of individuals. Getting into Global Health Corps may be more competitive than winning a seat at Yale!