Project Officer bij ERINN Innovation
Een bachelor in Biochemie in Canada, lerares Engels in Vietnam en een master in Global Health in Maastricht. Rochelle Caruso's reis zie je niet elke dag.
Na haar bacheloropleiding reisde Rochelle naar Vietnam waar ze werkte als lerares Engels. Dit was een openbarende ervaring die haar passie voor volksgezondheid, wereldwijde uitdagingen en onderwijs aanwakkerde. Toen begon de zoektocht naar een geschikte masteropleiding. In 2019 begon Rochelle aan de masteropleiding Global Health aan de Universiteit Maastricht.
Als je Rochelle vraagt of ze de Universiteit Maastricht heeft gekozen voor het programma of voor de universiteit, is haar antwoord duidelijk. "Ik koos Maastricht voor het programma - ik was erg geïnteresseerd in Global Health en Maastricht kwam steeds naar voren als een geweldige universiteit, dus het was een relatief makkelijke keuze. Toen ik het cursusoverzicht las, dacht ik steeds: oh, dit zijn allemaal mijn favoriete dingen om over te praten."
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Rochelle was also pulled in by Maastricht’s Problem-Based Learning method and the focus on international collaboration. Rochelle found these selling features translated directly into the course where she was provided the opportunity to discuss complex topics amongst her peers. “Our cohort was incredibly international, which gave us a lot of insight into how other healthcare systems work and how other cultures view health. In addition to learning from leading academics and peer-review publications, we learned from each other’s personal and professional experiences. This allowed our understanding on the topics to grow more meaningful, and personally allowed me to unlearn certain biases and incorrectly held ideas.”
During Global Health, students choose between 11 different elective tracks - Rochelle chose Implementing Innovations. In this track, the focus lies on translating global health innovations and interventions to the local context. For Rochelle, it was a new way of looking at participatory approaches and co-creation, something she really utilises on a daily basis in her current role.
Rochelle works as a Project Officer at ERINN Innovation. Her role is to bring the many stakeholders of research together, bridging the gap from science to policy, industry, and society. In her words: “Make your science matter! If you come up with good ideas, but no one knows about it, what’s the use in it?”
One of her current projects ESCAPE (a Horizon 2020 project) aims to improve and integrate healthcare for multimorbid elderly patients. Multimorbid patients have complex healthcare needs and often experience problems as they have to navigate multiple care pathways and multiple healthcare professionals. This makes it the patients’ responsibility, or their caretakers’ responsibility, to manage appointments and medication, often resulting in ineffective treatment. With more than 50 million Europeans suffering from multimorbidity, it places a heavy financial and logistical burden on our healthcare systems. The need for a solution is urgent. Rochelle’s aim in this project is to garner attention for the project and its results for all relevant stakeholders, facilitating long-term project impact.
Rochelle did not immediately land her job as a project officer at ERINN Innovation and was juggling a few roles simultaneously. This included working as a tutorial instructor at Maastricht University, volunteering as a proposal writer for the 'Kar Geno-Center for Hope' in Kenya, and interning at Alanda Health. After completing her internship, she then worked as a project manager at Alanda Health. It was only then that she secured her current role at ERINN Innovation. Therefore, Rochelle has one important takeaway for our current and future students: "maximise the opportunities you do get and focus on your transferable skills in the early stages of your career. The experiences you have are valuable and will lead to career progression."
Rochelle’s favourite memories of Maastricht? “Despite living through the first wave of COVID-19 in the latter half of my masters, I loved Maastricht and have so many great memories of my time there. It's hard to pick just one, but my favourite place in the city is the café Alley Cat - I had a lot of great study sessions and chats with my classmates there! And of course, the Global Health Christmas party!” Curious as we are, we tried to unravel more information on Global Health’s famous Christmas Party, but no more details are shared with us. Apparently, you have to come and see for yourself!