School is Cool

Hi All,

As promised (and I’m sure, much to my parents’ relief) I will finally be discussing my schoolwork.

I’ve mentioned this before, but Public Health majors in their final year at Hopkins get the opportunity to take classes at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Bloomberg is just downtown, a short ride away on the JHMI shuttle. Bloomberg runs on a quarter system, unlike Hopkins, which has made scheduling a bit of a challenge, but here are the exciting classes I’ve been able to take thus far.

First Term, I took…

Epidemiology & Public Health Impact of HIV-AIDS

and Refugee Healthcare

Second Term, I’ll be taking…

Humanitarian Emergencies

and Political Science for Public Health Practitioners

Back at Hopkins, all semester, I’m taking…

History of Africa since 1880

Fundamentals of Biostatistics

and Economic Development


My Bloomberg classes have been great, and an interesting change from the regular Hopkins environment. Most of the students in my classes downtown are much older, with experience in the Peace Corps or with international NGOs--something they love to mention in answering the professor’s questions. It’s been interesting to narrow my focus and take such in-depth classes, as well.

My absolute favorite class was first term, Epidemiology of HIV. Taught by an amazing professor, he managed to motivate all of us to turn up downtown at 8:30 am twice a week for a lively discussion. We had guest lecturers who were expert in their fields, and learned about every facet of the HIV epidemic. We discussed injection drug use, mother-to-child transmission, and the drug development pipeline. My professor himself was the leader of a huge cohort study called ALIVE, one of the longest studies of HIV-positive men. His knowledge of the topic, and his experience with the epidemic, was amazing. I was already really interested in studying HIV-AIDS, and Professor Farzadegan’s class inspired me to continue to explore the topic--I’ll be taking Advanced Topics in HIV-AIDS Control in the third term.

my study nook

It was also really interesting for me personally, as a lot of information on the epidemic focuses on South Africa, where I studied abroad. I’m currently mulling over the decision to defer my McKinsey offer and spend a semester with the Clinton Foundation. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Clinton Foundation has recently rolled out an amazing antiretroviral program, and they’ve made a real difference to the prevalence and transmission of HIV in the region. It would be such an amazing experience!

south africa

My other first-term class, Humanitarian Emergencies, was really interesting as well. I knew almost nothing about the topic going in, and took it with my friend Jillie, who actually wants to go into emergency relief. It was so great I decided to take a follow-up class this term, Refugee Healthcare, with the same professor.

This term I’m also taking Political Science for Public Health practitioners, which covers multi-lateral institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the UN, from a public health perspective. We watched a documentary that, like most things in public health, was simultaneously fascinating and really depressing. “Life and Debt,” about the role of the IMF and US farming subsidies in Jamaica, was an interesting introduction to the class, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Back on the Homewood campus, I’ve been attempting to finish up the last of my requirements for my major and minor.

book nook

Economic Development, taught by Professor Gersovitz, is a more qualitative econ class, focusing on the path that countries take to development, and the economic factors that lead them there. So far, we’ve talked about population growth, education, agriculture, and savings decisions.

History of Africa, taught by Professor Berry, gives a high-level overview of the colonial and post-colonial situations in much of Central and Western Africa. It’s not my favorite class, but it has been really interesting to learn about the same countries I studied while abroad, from an American perspective. In particular, it was jarring but fascinating to hear a very different version of South African history than the one I knew while living there. It really demonstrates how subjective history can be, which was a learning experience in and of itself.

Finally, my last class…Biostats! I think Professor Zeger is a great professor, but biostats is admittedly not my best subject. Math I don’t mind, but statistics I really just cannot handle. The hint of computer programming, the endless Greek variables. It’s really not my thing. It is important to Public Health though, and I’m slowly making it through.

i like to read

I always find it gratifying when classes seem to supplement eachother. It’s like a daily reinforcement that the classes you’ve somewhat arbitrarily chosen are actually related. Learning about the same topic from multiple discipline’s perspectives is so interesting. For example, I’ve been learning about dependency theory in my Bloomberg poli sci class, it’s been mentioned in my Econ & History of Africa class, and it was central to a class I took abroad, “Third World Politics.”

So that’s what’s been on my plate for the semester! Now that the semester’s halfway over (oops) you all finally know what I’ve been up to. It’s been a great start to senior year, these classes have all been really different and interesting. I can’t wait for another term at the School of Public Health!

Hope you’re all having a great fall and a happy Halloween!


P.S. Here’s the documentary we watched--Enjoy!