Q&A with Maria Hinson Tobin

Maria Hinson Tobin is a 2014 graduate of the Master of Science in Global Health (MSGH) program. She was included in the Notre Dame Alumni Association's 2020 Domer Dozen cohort, which honors 12 graduates under 32 years of age for significant contributions in their fields, as well as in service to others. In this Q&A, Maria discusses her current position with CARE, her experience completing her MSGH capstone field research, and more.

Q. Tell us about how and when you first became interested in global health.

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A.I think the cross-cultural experiences I had growing up really shaped my perspectives around medicine and healthcare. My mom immigrated to the United States as an adult; through her stories and our tight-knit Vietnamese community, I learned early how too many people live in resource-limited settings without adequate healthcare and infrastructure. Traveling to Vietnam as a child exposed me to this jarring inequity and poverty first-hand. My continued interactions with underserved communities through volunteerism and travel fueled my passion for global health and reducing health disparities, leading me to pursue a Master of Science in Global Health at Notre Dame. 

Q. What are you doing now professionally? 

A.Since 2015, I’ve worked for CARE, an international humanitarian organization committed to saving lives, defeating poverty, and achieving social justice. At CARE, I’ve managed and provided technical expertise for food security, nutrition, and health programs in more than 10 countries globally. Some of the regions I’ve supported include Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, and Indonesia. At the center of this work, I’ve overseen the implementation quality of an ongoing multi-country initiative committed to transforming the lives of women farmers, empowering them with the resources, skills, and knowledge to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. For the last two years, I’ve also served in a fundraising role while also pursuing my doctorate in public health at the University of Georgia.

Q. What is your most memorable experience at Notre Dame, and why?

A.My most memorable experience was conducting research in Kampala, Uganda, with the support of Dr. Edwin Michael, the Eck Institute for Global Health, and in partnership with The Carter Center’s River Blindness Elimination Program. Through the Master of Science in Global Health program’s flagship international capstone project field placement, I participated in new research to inform the development of a computational model used to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and improve ongoing programming. My summer in Uganda deeply connected me to The Carter Center’s programming and mission, highlighting the importance of this work and global health more broadly.

Q. Do you have any plans for the future? If so, what are they?

A. I hope to advance my career in global health and international development and maybe one day shift my focus to supporting community health and development needs in the United States, especially given the rising inequality and health disparities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m also incredibly passionate about domestic issues surrounding homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health and could see a future working in any one of those areas. Soon, my academic and personal plans include writing and defending my dissertation, graduating, and taking time off to spend time with my husband, family, and friends.

Q. Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself or something you enjoy doing in your free time?

A. I enjoy going on walks, listening to audiobooks, reading, swimming, gardening, cooking, and interior design in my free time. I am also scuba certified and love diving (and pretty much any activity on the beach or in the water)! Beyond my passion for global health and development, I’m also a self-proclaimed environmentalist. I am incredibly devoted to environmental issues, especially climate change, pollution, wildlife, and marine conservation.