You are here

Reflections of a Young Public Health Professional

Reflections of a Young Public Health Professional

When I gained admission to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) I was really excited. I was mostly excited to leave Nigeria and start living on my own. Before I came to college, my parents and I were clueless on what I was going to study. You see, back home, we don’t have a variety of career paths to choose from; you’re either a lawyer, doctor, nurse, engineer or a banker. I didn’t want to be a doctor, but the thought of helping people appealed to me. Neither was I interested in sitting in an office all day, I wanted to travel around the world and meet people. From my interests, I was introduced to Public Health. I was told that Public Health was a broad course and I could easily find my niche. The best part of it was that I wasn’t required to take any science courses. What a relief. After taking science courses in High School, I was determined to run as far I could from them.

Fast forward to my senior year in college, I started picking interest in Nutrition. My plan was to take a gap year where I would work to gain some experience and then apply to grad school. Life had other plans. As I approached my graduation in May, the affinity for Nutrition only grew stronger. Knowing the five-career- pathed country I was coming from, I knew that I was going to face some resistance from my parents. I finally gathered some courage and told my parents about my interest in Nutrition and like typical parents, they had questions which I didn’t have the answer to. I was under the impression that going to grad school to study Nutrition was straight forward. I was wrong. In the master’s degree program in Nutrition, science courses are an integral part of the program. The courses I intentionally avoided taking in college had come back to haunt me. I had to take pre-requisites of over three semester of science classes before I could apply to graduate school.


What is the moral of my story?

Plan Ahead: Whatever class or position you currently are in, think two steps ahead. I wanted to take a gap year to work, but I didn’t start looking for jobs in time. I ended up working a summer job, but I couldn’t get a long-term job.

Research: My interest in nutrition started in my senior year of college (August ’16), but I stalled the research until sometime in (October ’17). By the time I found out about the process to get an M.S in Nutrition, one semester, that I could have been enrolled in, was already over.

Visit the Career Services as much as you can: the truth is they are only there to help you. I know that school always seem daunting but, besides acquiring knowledge the goal is to get a job where you’d be able to apply the knowledge. Public Health is indeed a broad course and you can use your degree to do whatever. Let the career services help you navigate your career path based on your interests.

Don’t let anything stop you: Although I received some resistance from my parents about pursuing Nutrition, they finally opened up to the idea. My nutrition journey starts in January ’18. I have enrolled and I will be taking classes to complete my pre-requisites and then apply to graduate school. It won’t be a bed of roses, but I know it will be a fulfilling journey.


By Dymphna Ghasarah, UIC SPH Alumna '17, Bachelor of Arts in Public Health

Like us on Facebook!