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MPH Student Hits “Trifecta” in Study Abroad Program in Uganda

August 2017

 TiQi Brown, Masters of Public Health (MPH) student, spent part of his summer learning about health care access in Uganda.

His experience began with a fortuitous Google search. When looking for study abroad programs, one organization stood out in the results and sparked a memory. He remembered seeing the name, Child Family Health International, when he lived in California; however, he didn’t know much about it.

In exploring their website, he learned that Child Family Health International offered a variety of different experiences across the globe, was financially feasible, and had great testimonials from past participants. Once TiQi discovered they had programs in infectious disease prevention and health disparities, he knew it was a good match and applied.

TiQi received four placement options: two in South America and two in Africa. When asked why he chose Uganda, he explained that he was looking for a location that challenged his perceptions of health care. He said, “I wanted to be immersed in a population that was rural, underserved, and with less access to care. I felt like I could learn the most from going to a place that wasn’t as developed as some of the other countries.”

He added that he felt like he hit a “trifecta” with this opportunity as the program was out of his comfort zone and touched on access to care and maternal child health, two areas he is most interested in studying.

It was a four-week, intensive program with clinical rotations in six areas: primary care, HIV, maternal, dental, hospital, and nutrition. The projects centered on what strategies could be enacted to improve access and promote healthy lifestyles to combat preventable issues within the local population.

For TiQi, working in the HIV clinic as well as the maternal clinic were the most rewarding. He interacted with doctors and assisted with HIV testing as well as two childbirth deliveries. He learned both theoretical and practical skills and how to work with limited resources. He also felt humbled realizing the things we take for granted in the United States.

TiQi’s experience was meaningful on many fronts. He said, “This experience re-centered my interest in health and re-solidified my personal drive to become a future health professional. Looking back, it left a huge impact on me. I learned so much, and it has given me the drive to keep pushing myself.”

He also offered advice to anyone who is thinking about studying abroad: “Don’t just do it for the sake of doing it,” he said. “Engage in some deep, personal reflection to best determine what you want in your life, career, etc. and how or if studying abroad is something for you.”

His final suggestion for studying abroad is to start thinking about it sooner rather than later so you have enough time to figure out how it best fits in your academic plan.

Planning ahead also enables you to identify external funding to study abroad. TiQi received several scholarships that made his experience possible. He received a scholarship from The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, The Roberson Fund Scholarship from UofL, and a travel scholarship from SPHIS.

TiQi is currently a graduate research assistant for health promotion and behavioral sciences. His expected graduation date is May 2018. After receiving his MPH degree with a concentration in health promotion and behavioral sciences, he hopes to continue to further his education by pursuing a doctoral degree.

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