For Michael Gallo, being a part of the Millennium Fellowship played a significant role in leading him towards his first job post-graduation. Michael was a 2018 Millennium Fellow and Campus Director at Moravian College, the sixth oldest institution of higher education in the United States. For the duration of the Fellowship, he worked on directing community-based initiatives that addressed food insecurity and promoted awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in local schools. A year after completing the Fellowship, he is currently working as a Visiting Research Assistant at the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) located in Macau, China. UNU-CS is a research institute at the intersections of information and communication technology (ICT) and international development. The Institute conducts UN policy-relevant research and generates solutions, addressing key issues expressed in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through high-impact innovations and frontier technologies.
In particular, the team Michael is a part of at UNU-CS is working on a mobile solution called Apprise, that seeks to identify and assist victims of human trafficking and labour exploitation. Apprise consists of two main tools; one that is used for victim identification in the Thai fishing industry (notorious for human rights abuses) and the other which is used in social compliance auditing for large private corporations in their global supply chains. Apprise aims to close the data gap on human trafficking and forced labour by enabling the collection of high-quality data to create responsive policy. Michael's responsibilities as a part of this project include data analysis, publication writing, and researching how public health methodologies and frameworks can be applied for the prevention of human trafficking.
Michael credits a large part of being a qualified candidate for this job to his experience with the Millennium Fellowship.
“Out of the many transformative experiences that I had during my time as an undergraduate, the Millennium Fellowship was definitely number one for me in terms of experiential learning and leadership development. I think that my research background in public health and my leadership experience through the Fellowship were the perfect combination when applying for this position because I was able to effectively demonstrate my commitment to the principles of the UN and the SDGs. Sam always talked about requisite experience being a barrier for young people interested in social impact work to have to overcome and I see my own story as another tremendous example of the capacity building potential of the Fellowship.”
Michael also went on to say that he sees lessons learned from the Millennium Fellowship implemented in his job every day. The project that he is a part of was designed in consultation with all key stakeholders, including migrant workers in vulnerable situations; local and regional NGOs; the Thai Government; Royal Thai Navy; regional embassies; and inter-governmental institutions.
“I think back to content of one of the Fellowship sessions I led where our group was discussing the different ways in which development projects, in spite of their best intentions, can go wrong without understanding the local context and giving a voice to everyone involved. In particular, giving a voice to those who are the targeted beneficiaries of a project is of the highest priority. You need that buy in to understand the needs of individuals and communities and how potential solutions can be created.”
Michael's job as a researcher at UNU-CS has served as a reaffirmation that he wants to continue his work in social impact through his chosen career path of medicine and global health. Starting in August 2020, Michael will be pursuing a dual degree MD/MPH at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. *Applications for the Millennium Fellowship Class of 2021 are now open!