Millennials sometimes get a bad rap—something that a child of the once-Commander-in-Chief is likely to be hardened to. But Barbara Pierce Bush, 34, the daughter of two-time President George W. Bush, has put her connections to good use.
While her father was still in office, Bush, who was named after her grandmother and the former First Lady, quietly founded the Global Health Corps.
The idea to focus on global health disparities first came up during a trip to Africa with her father, then-president Bush, in 2003. In a New York Times interview, She said that the inequality surrounding the AIDS crisis in Uganda “blew [her] mind.”
At the time, Bush, who was completing her undergrad classes at Yale, added health courses to her class list. Following graduation, she worked on caring for children plagued with AIDS in South Africa. Years after, she was the first chief executive of the Global Health Corps, which has nearly 6,000 applicants a year vying to be a part of their global health fellowship program. The fellows, who come from all over the world, eventually work with partner organizations focused on public health, to ameliorate issues that plague health institutions both domestically and abroad.
“In 2009, (we) started GHC to harness the passion, energy and skills of our generation to confront the world’s massive health challenges,” she said.
The organization and its mission are driven by “the powerful notion that motivated young people can make an impact in the field of global health, and while doing that, they can also build the skills to become the next generation of leaders in global health,” Bush said during a TedX talk she gave in 2010. “We’re the first generation that has grown up completely connected. You could live in Chicago and know exactly about health disparity in Burundi from watching it on YouTube.”
Bush’s devotion to addressing health inequality may have started at home.
Her father, President Bush, was touted for the PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) program he set up to fight AIDS in Africa and other developing countries. The program has saved millions of lives.
When Bush was asked about her father’s impact through his program, she told the New York Times, “I’ll probably burst into tears,” adding, “I’m extremely proud of him for PEPFAR. I’m extremely proud of him.”
Her mother, Laura Bush, is devoted to the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership that is part of the Dallas, Texas-based George W. Bush Institute global health initiative. The program works at granting access to proper care for those affected by cervical and breast cancer.
In an increasingly politicized environment, it seems that Bush has navigated the complicated atmosphere to carve out a space where she can empower young people to make a real change in the world—for the better.
Watch the full YouTube video credited above: Barbara Bush of Global Health Corps: Builders & Innovators Summit 2014 via Goldman Sachs