Katharina Dolezal: World Health Organisation Cobham Hall, UK
Posted: 03 August 2018
It inspired me to follow my heart and passion but understand that I had to work hard to achieve it.
Katharina Dolezal works at the European centre for the World Health Organisation in Demark, supporting public awareness campaigns to reduce the spread of preventable disease.
Raised in Austria, Katharina spent a year at Round Square school, Cobham Hall, in England, an experience she cites as inspiring a love of learning and providing her with an international grounding. These foundations have served her well throughout her global public health career, which has seen her debating drug policies at the United Nations and researching prevention methods for HIV/AIDS in Brazil.
Katharina describes her year at Cobham as life-changing, and the start of her “international career”. She recalls that in choosing a school, the opportunity to be involved in the Round Square international community appealed to her and her parents.
Recalling the experience of stepping outside her comfort zone at the 2006 Round Square International Conference, where she gave a presentation on the holocaust, she says: “Being Jewish myself and growing up in Austria, it was a topic that I had learned a lot about, but it was a challenging and distressing subject to talk to others about”. Katharina also credits the RSIC, and the opportunity it provided to meet young people from around the world, for encouraging her to be “more open-minded and conscious of other cultures”.
Katharina’s career since leaving school has included roles with organisations ranging from the Israeli Embassy (where she tackled topics such as youth crime and urban violence), to an HIV/AIDS agency in Brazil (where her outreach efforts helped to educate the public and young people), to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (where she was involved in organising a youth forum, developed a website, created digital information tools and online support networks). Now based in Copenhagen, at the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Office for European Vaccines in the Preventable Diseases and Immunization Unit (VPI) Katharina’s work involves promoting vaccines and immunisation options for communicable diseases.
Reflecting on the impact that her experiences at a Round Square school has had on her career and studies since, Katharina says: “I have always been interested in lots of different subjects and enjoy studying. Cobham had a very open-minded attitude to education, an attitude that shaped my entire approach to learning. Academically, I was a very creative person, and the school system was very encouraging of that”.