I have always admired people in my life who truly love their professions, because they find a way to wed their life passions with a successful career and their fervor is truly infectious. I too want that same feeling of fulfillment in my professional life, and thus my journey into finding this began with curiousity in public health that through the years has flourished as a result of my experiences. I have come to unearth a desire to obtain a graduate degree in epidemiology and have discovered a career path that will give me that sense of excitement and passion I have so admired in others.
As a multi-cultural individual, my parents instilled in me the importance of contributing to and aiding in change in Haiti and Sudan in any way possible, and my interests have always been in health. One thing that always stuck out in my mind was the failing healthcare systems occurring in both countries. After reading a great deal about the inadequacy of healthcare in both Haiti and Sudan, I was astonished to find out the Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western hemisphere. I began researching student volunteer opportunities in developing countries when my father started a non-profit organization in his native Sudan. In conversing with him about his goals, I felt drawn to explore volunteer opportunities in developing countries. I credit my father with encouraging and cultivating this interest, for his passion of giving back to his country truly resonated with me. After spending time working with him, I was itching to get my feet wet with volunteer opportunities abroad.
My first endeavors into the field of public health began without in fact knowing anything on the topic of public health. I joined Global Medical Training, a campus student organization with a focus on arranging volunteer trips for students interested in healthcare in developing countries. In January of 2011, I boarded a plane prepared to begin my medical volunteering adventure in Chiriquí, Panama oblivious to how profoundly this trip would change my perspective on health care and global health. Those 10 hour days felt draining, however I enjoyed every minute of the experience; from interacting with patients, albeit in very broken Spanish, to learning the causes of and treatments for parasitic infections common in the region. Spending two weeks in another country, attending to patients with very limited access to hospitals or any sort of medical care impacted me immensely and opened my eyes to how others live. It was a humbling experience to know that some of the patients we saw walked over ten miles to been seen. Looking back on my time in Chiriquí, in the sweltering heat and inescapable buzz of mosquitoes, I had found something I was passionate about in those moments.
When I returned to campus, after this trip, I met with a valued professor and praised this experience that she urged me to research any available public health research opportunities for students. In doing so,...