Cecilia Msogoya

MPH student, Nutritional Sciences
Morogoro, Tanzania

What influenced you to pursue a graduate degree in nutritional sciences? 

I have always been acutely aware of the pressing triple burden of malnutrition around me, particularly in Tanzania, as well as in other low- or middle-income countries (LMIC). This awareness and firsthand experience ignited a desire to not only understand but also address these issues. Pursuing a graduate degree in nutritional sciences was a clear path for me to deepen my knowledge and amplify my impact. My ambition was to move beyond textbook learning and play a hands-on role in research and the practical implementation of nutrition interventions tailored to community and population needs. I was looking for a graduate program with rigorous research methodologies, interdisciplinary collaborations, and mentorship opportunities, and UW’s program presented the ideal environment for me, and provide unique perspectives of different communities 

What attracted you to UW? 

When I began searching for the ideal institution to further my studies, UW stood out prominently due to its renowned School of Public Health. The program offered academic rigor, and the curriculum seamlessly integrated with real-world challenges. I also felt a connection with the program’s emphasis on systems thinking. I knew that having the opportunity to collaborate with local public health agencies and gain hands-on experience would allow me to apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings. It seemed like a place where I could genuinely grow, both as a professional and as an individual passionate about public health. 

How do you see the importance of nutrition in public health and disease prevention? 

The landscape of public health challenges is evolving. Historically, the emphasis has been on undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, however, we now face a triple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and the escalating issue of obesity and its associated non-communicable diseases (NCD). Despite the growing significance of these issues, many programs and policies are still primarily tailored towards addressing the former challenges. There’s an urgent need to recalibrate our approach and give equal importance to the emerging concerns related to overnutrition and the subsequent rise of NCDs. This intricate nexus of challenges solidified my resolve to contribute innovatively and meaningfully to the field of public health through a comprehensive graduate education. 

Tell us about your fieldwork or a recent project. 

For my fieldwork, I contributed to the preparation of a workshop to establish a human-centered design hub within the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, the technical arm responsible for spearheading the government’s initial phase of addressing malnutrition in the country. This hub aims to innovate nutrition solutions, targeting exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, infant packaging, and the care-seeking behavior for children with severe acute malnutrition. 

For my thesis, I am delving into a project that seeks to capture the nuances of consumer perceptions concerning the global sustainability of pork, beef, and chicken, emphasizing both animal welfare and environmental impacts. I’m utilizing the scoping review methodology to characterize the “what,” “how,” and “where” of this sphere of study. My goal is to uncover insights into the concepts and constructs surrounding meat sustainability but also explore the methodological landscapes and geographical distribution of related research. The overarching aim of this exploration is to bridge the communication gap between food producers and public health professionals, emphasizing the importance of understanding consumer perspectives on food beyond just its nutritional aspects. 

What are your future goals? 

At the heart of my professional aspirations lies a dual passion for research and the operational implementation of nutrition prevention strategies. I’m driven by the imperative to translate complex nutritional findings into actionable interventions for the broader public, especially in contexts where such knowledge can profoundly uplift communities and populations. In the imminent years, I aim to engage deeply with organizations that are at the forefront of nutrition prevention initiatives. I’m particularly drawn to those emphasizing equity and capacity building. I believe empowering local communities and professionals is paramount. My long-term trajectory is set towards a PhD in implementation science, nutritional epidemiology or international nutrition. Sub-Saharan Africa remains my focal region of interest, exploring the intricate interplay of traditional diets, urbanization, and their public health implications. 

What do you like to do for fun? 

For fun, I’m an avid urban explorer. I love planning trips to cities, both familiar and new, immersing myself in their unique architecture and culture. But when I can’t physically travel, I attempt to go on culinary journeys right from my kitchen, experimenting with recipes from different corners of the globe. Additionally, I have a cherished collection of books that transport me to various parts of the world, offering me adventures and experiences without ever leaving my corner.  

What do you enjoy most about living in Seattle? 

Living in Seattle offers a unique mix that I genuinely appreciate. The city is bustling with energy, which means there’s always something new to explore or learn. But what I particularly love is its proximity to nature. Whether it’s taking a weekend hike, or just enjoying the view of Mount Rainier on a clear day, Seattle beautifully combines the best of city life with the calming presence of the great outdoors. 

What advice would you give someone considering graduate students with the UW Nutritional Sciences Program? 

My top tip: Be relentlessly proactive. Scour the campus for opportunities that align with your passion – they’re abundant if you know where to look. Don’t hesitate to cold email professors or professionals that pique your interest; a simple outreach can open unexpected doors. Remember, in this program, growth isn’t just an outcome; it’s the very environment you’ll be immersed in. Embrace it!