Last week thousands of students in Boston graduated from some of the world’s top schools in public health, biomedical engineering, physical therapy, and related fields.
Boston is internationally recognized as a hub for innovation in medical technology, and it has more colleges and universities than anywhere else in the United States. Some of the most forward thinking programs in public health, biomedical engineering, and physical therapy are hosted by schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, and Boston University.
The Boston University School of Public Health offers innovative, hands on programs that prepare students to tackle the most pressing issues in health. In addition to standard public health curriculum, students are trained in skills like biostatistics, coding, and app development.
Faith Umoh, who received an MPH in global health with a concentration in biostatistics at BU, chose the program because she knew the courses would emphasize practice, rather than just theory.
“I learned how to apply the principles of biostatistics to analyze data to solve complex global health issues ,” she said. Umoh learned that global health organizations have an increase demand for quantitative skills; sometimes small non-profits may have room full of collected data without the skills needed to analyze that data in order to make informed programmatic decisions and policy.
In addition to analytical skills, BU offered Umoh an immersive course in mHealth (mobile health), which gave her the programming training she needed to develop a mobile app that local community health workers in developing countries could use to give referrals to women seeking treatment in child and maternal health.
Umoh’s focus on monitoring and evaluation led her to work in Liberia, where she collaborated with local health centers to find ways to improve their services.
“I want to create a name for myself in Africa,” said Umoh, who previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. Umoh wants to lead monitoring and evaluation efforts of international development organizations working in the region.
Valerissa Baker is another recent BU graduate who is well-equipped to innovate in global health. In addition to developing valuable research skills, Baker gained experience doing lab work.
“We were looking at different ways of decreasing intestinal leakiness. My job was to test out different agents that would impact the cells,” said Baker. In the lab, Baker and her colleagues combined different chemicals that could prevent pathogens that could potentially lead to cancer from entering the gastro-intestinal tract..
Baker, whose family is from Central America, and who has worked extensively in Southern Africa and Southeast Asia, plans to continue working abroad.
“I don’t think I’ll get back into the healthcare sector. I’m more interested in the global health side,” she said. “My biggest passions are travel and culture.”
By giving its students a solid foundation in technology, the Boston University School of Public Health gives its students the skills and insights they will need to tackle the most pressing health issues, using the newest, most effective tools in tech. As these tools become cheaper and easier to access, they will also be able to help people everywhere, not just in the richest countries.
Bryce Fricklas is a journalist from Boulder, Colorado. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal (2013 – 2015) and Guinea (2016), where he focused on community health. His interests include culture, music, nature conservancy, and public health. He is an MA candidate in international relations and international communication at Boston University.
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