What interested you in studying public health and why are you passionate about it?
From rural Mbandaka to Tacoma, Wash., I remain a part of marginalized communities that face disproportionate health disparities. My lived experiences as a Congolese woman and immigrant have informed my passion for improving upstream social determinants of health, re-imagining public health practice and research using equity-centered and community-engaged lenses. I am an advocate for equitable access to quality health care for all, especially for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), immigrant and refugee communities.
What’s your favorite aspect about studying public health and why?
Studying public health provides us with tools to understand socioeconomic, environmental, and political drivers of health, and create a possible global health future that addresses inequities embedded into all facets of health systems.
How do you want to change the world with your degree?
By fostering meaningful partnerships with underserved communities and health systems, I hope to contribute to sustainable public health innovations that disrupt (subconscious or conscious) neocolonial approaches and systemic inequities, amplify community voices, and efficiently deliver culturally competent solutions. I currently work with Somali Health Board as a policy and data coordinator and a lead staff for COVID-19 vaccinations, in addition to research. We thrive to bridge the gap between our community and partners (health department and organizations) to reduce and eliminate health disparities among immigrants and refugees within King County.
What experiences at the UW SPH have been most influential?
Taking core SPH classes, being part of the SPH Dean’s Advisory Council for Students and the Department of Global Health’s Undergraduate Advisory Board have challenged how I hope to contribute to our world and how I reflect on my positionality. I am immensely grateful for volunteer, internship and research learning opportunities, and the endless support from our phenomenal faculty and staff.
Why did you choose the UW?
To learn, connect, and grow in the SPH community, where academic excellence intersects with interdisciplinary approaches to public health and partnership.
What interests do you have outside of (or related to) public health? Any extracurricular activities?
I love spending time with my family and traveling around the world. I also enjoy self-care at home, music, books, soccer and the arts.
What is one piece of advice that you have for potential new public health students or one thing you wish you knew before beginning your public health studies?
Speaking as an alumna, I hope you never doubt that you deserve to be at SPH and will thrive. Remember that what you learn in the classroom is as valuable as the experience you gain outside in the real world. So, I urge you to be engaged in your classes, access the School’s resources, pursue your interests, and get involved. Also, connect with SPH students, faculty, staff, alumni and guest-lecturers. Build your network!