Where did you live before coming to UW and/or where are you from originally?
I am from Sierra Leone. A small beautiful country in West Africa. My parents moved to Sierra Leone from Pakistan as Missionaries to work for a religious charity in 1988. I spent my early childhood in Sembehun, Moyamba Disctrict - a rural village in Southern Sierra Leone with no electricity, running water, and cooking gas. My mother recalls me having several bouts of malaria and diarrheal diseases and being taken to the local community health center for treatment and where bitter antimalarial chloroquine tablets were served. We eventually moved to Freetown – the capital city of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is known for its warm people, beautiful beaches and rich natural resources.
What is your background in public health/global health?
Sierra Leone has one of the weakest health systems in the world. My mother got diabetes in her early thirties. My mother’s illness and the weak health system in Sierra Leone and a passion to make a difference influenced my decision to study Medicine. I had the opportunity to go back to Moyamba District work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to supervise the polio immunization process. I also worked in the Ebola outbreak in various capacities. As a doctor, I continued to see high burden of diseases and many patients were brought to the hospital late. This developed a strong interest in me to work in public health. I hence, applied for the Fulbright scholarship and got accepted to study in the US.
Why did you choose to get your MPH in global health at the UW?
One of the strongest reasons I chose UW was its diverse and strong faculty members who are doing research all over of the world. There is a true sense of ‘global-ness’ at the UW Global Health program. I also loved the kindness and warmth of the admission staff and the cohort system. There are so many online get-togethers and you easily network and know so many people quickly here. There is a faculty and an academic advisor. They stay in touch with you and make sure that you stay on track. The peers are also superb and originate from all over the world and share their diverse experiences. Lastly, the UW Seattle campus is great. You quickly fall in love. It’s a big campus and anytime you visit, you discover something new happening at the University.
What has the cohort experience been like for you (so far)?
It has been great. COVID19 has limited in-person meetings here. However, we have organized some socially distanced meetings. My peers are super charged and all of them motivate me to do better and think creatively. They share diverse and meaningful experiences and clarify concepts. I feel like my cohort members are part of my family. We brainstorm brilliant ideas on how to make a difference in the world using new innovations. I never knew or thought we could become so close this quickly. My friends even give me new ideas for my global health blog. I believe we will stay in touch and form many future collaborations.
What do you enjoy most about Seattle?
Seattle is a beautiful city. The scenery is great. There are so many parks here where you can go for a walk or to job. There are also many social opportunities. One of my favorite parks is the Gas Works Park. You can see downtown Seattle from this park. The views are amazing. I also recently visited a Pumpkin patch where we were able to do many fun activities. There are tennis courts all over and I frequently play Tennis with my friends. Also, there is a huge diversity of people here. You can meet people from all over the World in Seattle.
What advice do you have for students who are applying for the program?
UW is a big Global Health hub. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many other public health actors are located in Seattle. Try to get in touch with current faculty and current students to get a feel of the program and the research components. Do not hesitate to email anyone. The faculty and students are very friendly here and will help you if they can. In your personal statement, make sure to elaborate why you are interested in global health, what has prepared you for this program and what you intend to do in future. I wish you all the best and l look forward to seeing you here in future.