I recently completed my second term in a Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Imperial College, London, and the past months have been extraordinary. In my program, there are students from all corners of the world who also completed their undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences. Some are from Oxford, Cambridge, and Ivy League institutions, and others are physicians who worked in war and conflict zones.
At first, this was intimidating. But, through presentations, group coursework, and particularly writing assessments, I often felt steps ahead—all as a result of the liberal arts and science education I gained at the University of Redlands. I always knew that Redlands offered a quality education, but I truly never imagined that it would enable me to compete excellently with colleagues from internationally renowned universities. The academic and writing skills I gained and my experiences outside the classroom were together what have allowed me to do well at the graduate level at Imperial.
Although I studied chemistry as an undergraduate, I have always felt enabled to see beyond the natural sciences viewpoint in graduate lectures and discussions. I was a student who not only took biology and chemistry classes, but also took Moral Imaginations—the Art and Soul of Speaking Truth to Power; Religion and Ecology; Religion of America; World Politics; Sociology; Religion and Politics of Iran; etc. I remember my May term in Cuba, where I learned about the country’s nationalized healthcare system and the humanitarian impact of Cuban-trained physicians around the world. I also remember last year’s May term in Washington, D.C., where I met alumni from different fields and realized my potential within the intersection of healthcare and policy. My ability to engage in research work as an undergraduate was also something not all undergraduates get the chance to do. This well-rounded education empowered me to understand my world and approach global public health from holistic and wide-ranging perspectives.
As a post-graduate student at a world-class research university, I could say that there is an unexpected and underrated value in a liberal arts education. In reality, there is a surprising and remarkable power that comes from a liberal arts education that I did not entirely comprehend until I graduated. Redlands instilled in me a dynamic vision of not only how to become a physician, but, most importantly, how to become a difference maker in a world of inequity.
Through my graduate coursework, I have developed a strong interest and critical understanding of people-centred, integrated health systems, as well as the strengthening of health service delivery in Europe. For the rest of my program, I will be working on my research dissertation with the World Health Organization (WHO) on a project monitoring health services delivery in the WHO European region. The project’s aims are closely aligned with my interests in generating evidence and analysis to help impact decision-making and enhance primary health care systems’ performance and capacity. I will be at the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care in Almaty-Kazakhstan starting in May and will return to London in July to finish writing my thesis.
The Rotary Global Grant that funded my MPH offered me an exceptional learning experience in one of Rotary’s areas of focus: disease prevention and treatment. I am eager to dedicate my future global health career to similar efforts around the world.