Alum of the Month

April 2007

April 2007
Hilarie Cranmer

B.E. '89

Q & A:

  • What is your edge (strength)?
    I'm a team player, working collectively for the benefit of all.
  • What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
    Learning to be a valued member of the team, whether as a starter, as in basketball, or a bench warmer, as in volleyball. Also, in engineering, as a woman, I was a minority, and it was important to demonstrate my value through hard work and merit.
  • What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
    Emergency medicine and public health. I followed my passion and ended up on the pathway of providing health care and access to those needing it most, whether in the emergency department or in a refugee camp.
  • What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
    I was hired as a professional basketball player for a women's team in Vienna, Austria! Language skills are essential in other cultures; even if you don't master fluency, it is important to learn useful phrases, and attempt to communicate and adapt culturally no matter what context you are working/traveling in, whether for fun or for work.
  • What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
    First was going to Kosovo to work with Physicians for Human Rights, shortly after the refugees had returned. Then it was working in Malawi, Africa, in a mission hospital for three months, taking care of an AIDS-ravaged population. This led to my training path in public health, and then allowed me to have the necessary toolkit so that I could respond in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, 10 days after the tsumani with the International Rescue Committee. Then it was working with the American Red Cross in Baton Rouge during the hurricanes. It seems that one single thing has led to many single things, that continue to compel me to work every day, training those to now go and have those experiences and those single events that will compel them.
  • Who in your field do you most admire?
    I believe that there can be no one single mentor, but rather a team, who can sit in your corner and support you on your path. Off the top of my head, I think of the following: Paul Farmer for working to reduce poverty, Jennifer Leaning and Mike VanRooyen for working to help those affected by conflict, Paula Johnson for working to improve global women's health, Marc Mitchell for working to put tools into the hands of health care workers worldwide, James Li for the practical no-nonsense approach to solving power issues and providing care.
  • What was your major?
    Biomedical engineering.
  • What was your favorite class?
    My engineering classes with Professor Kevin Craig. He was a scholar athlete and continuously encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
  • What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    Times spent with my freshman year roommates, with whom I'm still friends: Christine (Gotz) Shakespeare and Karen S. Hill, as well as strength training sessions with Fran Kalafer's Volleyball Strength Coach, B. Lee Brandon!
  • In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
  • What advice would you give current students?
    Get the most you can out of the now. There are so many opportunities to pursue, but follow that which makes you happy/passionate/alive, and be the best you can at it. There will always be someone who is better than you in whatever you start to excel in, and they will motivate you to be stronger/faster/smarter, but there will never be anyone who is a better you.
  • How do you balance work and life?
    Communication with my husband, Ian Cartwright, my children and saying no to work. Someone once said, as they were nearing the end of their life, they regretted not spending more time with family, but they never regretted not spending more time at work.
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    I'd like to be working in an austere environment, like Africa or Haiti or Southeast Asia, for at least half the year, with my family at my side.
  • What have you learned from your recent humanitarian efforts, including your experiences volunteering as an emergency medical technician during the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and your assistance in Southeast Asia following the devastating tsunami?
    It is important to be patient and flexible, no matter what your background. No matter how devastated a person can be, what they need most is dignity and respect, whether you are helping to provide medical care or fresh water or donating money to a humanitarian organization. What one may perceive as their skill set that is most needed, when one is volunteering, you truly have to be able to respond to the beneficiary's needs, and not to your needs.
  • What does it mean to you to be inducted into the Hofstra Athletics Hall of Fame, and how do you feel about having been selected as the keynote speaker for this year's Hall of Fame Dinner?
    I wouldn't be where I am today without my experience at Hofstra and the support and friendships of those I met there. I am humbled to think that you would want to hear what I have to say, and hope that I can keep you awake and inspired.
Hilarie Cranmer

Hilarie Cranmer '89, M.D., M.P.H. is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and faculty in the Division of International Health and Humanitarian Programs in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In January 2005, Cranmer served as a health officer in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, working with the International Rescue Committee. She has also served as a medical officer at Embangweni Hospital in Malawi and as a field officer with Physicians for Human Rights in post-war Kosovo, where she did human rights work, taught ultrasonography and trauma management. Last year she was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Washington, DC, with the American Red Cross for four weeks as part of the public health response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Initially trained in biomedical engineering, she is a graduate of Hofstra University and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, completed an emergency medicine residency at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and was the first fellow in the International Emergency Medicine and Health program, where she is acting as associate director. As faculty in the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Dr. Cranmer is the director of the Humanitarian Studies Initiative for Residents and the first director of the Global Women's Health Fellowship, a partnership with the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology, which begins in July 2007.