Undergraduate Institution: Assumption University
Current Role: Director of International Program, DKT International
Why did you choose the Brown University School of Public Health?
I believe Brown's program is very rigorous and multidisciplinary. It makes you a very strong and competent public health graduate. I say this both from an academic perspective for someone who wants to pursue a career in academia or someone who wants to work in program implementation and management at a health organization. I wanted a combination of both disciplines and felt that I could get that at Brown.
What made Brown's program different from other programs you considered?
I like the size of the program, the class offerings, and the ability to choose a concentration. The class size allows for you to know the instructor and your classmates, fostering bonds as you work towards completing your degree. I know this is not something possible in a very large school or program. This is something I really cherished at Brown. This individual attention and access to resources based on your needs. Furthermore, I love how Brown allows this freedom to let students take classes beyond the School of Public Health.
What did you enjoy most about your program?
Like the school's motto, you learn public health by doing public health. And you do this in a multifaceted fashion: working with a thesis advisor and reader, an internship and if possible a fellowship at one of the hospitals or even the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). I feel very lucky to have done all of them. It broadened my understanding of public health theories I learnt in class and actually applying it on a day to day basis. Furthermore, the faculty and staff of the school of public health are very personable and accessible; they are able to guide you in your path as well as link you with people interested in your academic area. Finally, the chance to make lifelong friends during the program. I still stay in touch with my friends and find time to meet them. And why not? Where else would one find like minded people on their path to improve health of the community and nation.
What was your academic area of interest and why?
Sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Before coming to Brown, I had worked at a global health organization called Population Services International (PSI) for several years. I worked in Asia to increase access to long term methods of contraception and other reproductive health services. The work in SRH taught me that the impact of access to contraceptives brings about a powerful change both at an individual level and the country as a whole towards development. Having come from a marketing and communications background in undergrad and work, I needed to know the public health angle and scientific perspective to further carry on my work in the SRH sector.
How did your program prepare you for your current position/next steps?
I currently work at DKT International leading a global program to increase information and access to sexual and reproductive health services (SRH). DKT International is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and is recognized as a leader in social marketing of family planning and HIV prevention products and services. We work in over twenty countries and measure our impact by couple years protection (CYP). In 2017 alone, we delivered 36 million CYP and averted 14,600 maternal deaths. An MPH from Brown helps me balance my work holistically by providing crucial and standard public health theories and practices into my work. Leading a global program can be daunting with many aspects to consider ranging from the end users, country based partners to donors. Everyone has their own agenda. I for one believe that anchoring mine on the public health training I received at Brown balanced with your organization's goals is the best way to move forward.
What did you enjoy most about Providence?
Providence has a heart and it is lovely. I believe Providence has one of the most beautiful skylines in the country. The other part of Providence which is very dear to me is College Hill and Wayland on the East Side. I often say to people that the East Side of Providence is my spiritual home. I use to love taking people on long walks starting from the School of Public Health to the Blackstone Boulevard walking path pointing out various historic buildings along Brown's wonderful campus.
What advice would you give to prospective applicants?
Brown has a very unique public health program. It is rigorous but very rewarding indeed. I would advise students to be very open and flexible. Do not be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes. Reach out to both faculty, MPH program coordinators and talk to fellow students. Of course, once in a while you might get overwhelmed by the courses, electives, internships etc. But that is just fine, you are here to learn and the school has the right tools and resources to guide you. Bottom line, if you open up to the world, the world will do the same in return. Learning mixed with intellectual curiosity, knowledge building and challenging oneself is exhilarating. Above all, have fun in the program.