Every year, the University of Washington Department of Global Health (DGH) and the School of Public Health (SPH) honor exceptional graduate students who demonstrate a strong commitment to the field of global health. 

We’re pleased to share that the 2022 honorees are:

  • Rahmeh AbuShweimeh – Oscar Gish Social Justice & Equity Award
  • Gifti Abbo – Medical Student Achievement Award
  • Leah Wood – Outstanding Master's Student
  • Marie-Claire Gwayi-Chore – Outstanding PhD Student
  • Horacio A. Chacon Torrico – SPH Gilbert S. Omenn Award for Academic Excellence (Master’s) 

For the Gilbert S. Omenn Award, the School’s most prestigious recognition for students, the SPH honors one master’s and one doctoral student. Nominees are selected based on a combination of scholarly achievement/academic contribution to the field of public health, commitment to public health beyond their required academic research and/or community, and leadership in public health.

This year we’re thrilled that Horacio A. Chacon Torrico, a student in the Health Metrics & Evaluation Track of our MPH program, was selected as the master’s recipient of this award.

“These outstanding student awards are an important recognition of students whose work exemplifies our values including excellence, innovation, impact, social justice and equity,” said Susan Graham, associate chair for academic programs. “We are thrilled to recognize Rahmeh, Gifti, Leah, Claire, and Horacio for their unique and impactful contributions as trainees. We are extremely proud of all our DGH students, who have completed rigorous coursework and training while navigating COVID-related challenges that were truly formidable.” 

All winners are spotlighted during both the UW SPH Awards of Excellence ceremony and the DGH Graduation celebration, held in-person. 

Read more about the accomplishments of these five extraordinary students. 


Rahmeh AbuShweimeh, MPH

Rahmeh has been engaged in the struggle for social justice since she arrived at the UW. She has been a key player in the creation of a Global Health Justice website, focusing on issues of vaccine apartheid, structural violence, global theft, phantom aid, decolonization, and war/militarism, and led a UW-wide event (on Red Square) to fight vaccine apartheid. As student co-chair of the DEI committee, Rahmeh actively participated in DGH course reviews - promoting inclusivity, representation of diverse identities, antiracism and anticolonialism in our curriculum and instruction. As a co-lead in our strategic planning, she advocated for diversity and equity in the department. And she has been a tireless voice calling for justice for oppressed Palestinians.


Gifti Abbo, MD, MPH

Gifti entered medical school with a passion and curiosity in global health, informed by her dual Ethiopian-American background. After her first year of medical school, she was selected for the SCOPE fellowship (Strengthening Care Opportunities through Partnership in Ethiopia) spending the summer learning from leading experts in public health at the University of Gondar. She also co-led the Global Health Interest Group in Spokane, leading multiple events for medical students to engage with diverse voices in the Spokane community. During her time in the MPH program, she served on DGH’s curriculum committee and DEI committee informing work to make the UW anti-racist and anti-colonial.



Leah Wood – MPH / Leadership Policy & Management (LPM) Track

Leah is graduating this Spring with dual MPH and MPA degrees. At the UW, Leah’s work has included community-engaged projects on topics such as wildfire smoke risk communication in North Central Washington and climate resiliency for frontline communities in Pierce and King counties, analyses of the policy landscape for forest management and air quality in the Western US with The Nature Conservancy, and work on intersections of energy, mobility, and health equity with Front and Centered. Leah recently started a position as an Equity and Environmental Justice Consultant at the Washington State Department of Health. 



Claire Gwayi-Chore – PhD Global Health Metrics & Implementation Science / Emphasis – Implementation Science

Claire is graduating from the department’s Global Health Metrics & Implementation Science PhD program, with a focus on Implementation Science. She is a global health specialist who has spent the last decade delivering and evaluating school- and community-based interventions targeting neglected tropical diseases in various low- and middle-income countries, and she has directly supported programs that have reached hundreds of millions of vulnerable people globally. Claire is passionate about promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, antiracism, and anticolonialism within global health education, research, practice & mentorship and is an emerging expert bringing an implementation science lens to the practice of decolonizing global health. 


Horacio A. Chacon Torrico – MPH / Health Metrics & Evaluation (HME) Track

Horacio Chacon Torrico is a Peruvian physician that has spent the last seven years working in health metrics and public health. After his MD, he studied Biomedical Informatics to better understand health information systems and support the development of a maternal and neonatal community-led program in the Amazon. He co-developed community health worker-led interventions using information and communication technologies, where his main interests lay in underserved and remote populations. He was awarded an Organization of American States graduate studies scholarship to pursue his Global Health MPH, and has been working in DGH I-TECH´s Zimbabwe HIV Care and Treatment program where he contributed to understanding performance indicators and the information system of the intervention´s Monitoring and Evaluation framework.