Katie Lenhoff is a recipient of the Academic Year 2017-2018 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The award provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with financial support to develop fluency in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) and expertise in the regions in which these languages are spoken. Every year the Center for Global Studies awards between 12-15 fellowships to UW students. Click here to learn more.
As a Master’s of Public Health student in the University of Washington’s Community-Oriented Public Health Practice program, Katie recognizes that building strong communication skills is essential for effective public health work, especially when working across cultures in support of immigrant communities. Katie decided to study Vietnamese after working in mental health program coordination for three years. In that role, she witnessed the added barriers that many Vietnamese speakers face in obtaining appropriate care for themselves and their loved ones because too few public health professionals are knowledgeable about Vietnamese language and culture. Thanks to the Global Studies FLAS award, Katie has been able to initiate Vietnamese language study and gain practice with additional methods for bringing immigrant communities’ stories to the surface in public health practice. Upon graduation, Katie intends to continue studying Vietnamese language. She also looks forward to continuing her mental health focussed public health work in a manner that better supports Vietnamese speakers and other immigrant communities.