March Madness…

…by Kayla / from the United States / Master of Public Health 2017-2018

The month of March has been mix of many snow days, headline news on the UK university staff strike, and many assignments and project preparations. All that being said, tomorrow I will complete my official last class of my Master’s degree! It honestly caught me off guard how fast this semester flew by. I only realized half way through this week that it may be my last week as a university student ever. But I always keep  in my mind that we all will be a life-long student enrolled in the University of Life.

The city shut down for about three days earlier in March with no classes, limited bus routes, and half empty shelves at the local food markets. These snow days were glorious for the few hours I actually spent outside, the extensions on deadlines, and the picturesque views from my window.

After the snow days the train tracks were mostly clear for my travels to the Rotary Club of Kirkcudbright’s Tuesday night meeting in order to give my first Global Scholar speech.  My colleague Carlyn and I took a one hour train ride southwest from Edinburgh to Lockerbie where Rotarian Mike Duguid picked us up. Our first stop was at the Lockerbie cemetery to learn and honour those that passed in the tragic plane crash that happened there in 1988. When we drove into town Mike’s wife Pat greeted us with warm Scottish hospitality. After tea and biscuits, we went off to have a personal tour of this small charming Scottish town with the population less than 3,500 people. We visited the famous 18th century Broughton House which had an array of beautiful paintings and antique furniture, and a sweet garden. During our visit there was an artist working on a live portrait of a woman that was sitting still for about 4 hours. It truly seemed as we went back in time to a simpler way of life and just took time to enjoy the day. That night we met some of the most cheerful Rotarians eager to year about our studies in Edinburgh, ambitions, and life through Rotary. I have visited quite a few Rotary clubs thus far, and it is always nice to fellowship with Rotarians, they have a way of encouraging you and seeing something inside you to truly keep you going forward. The next morning Pat, sent us home with homemade raspberry jam. We were speechless, it was the best jam we ever had. I have notice since being here, the British know how to make their jam. Disclaimer; we finished our full sized individual jars in less than a week. (Don’t judge). The link below shows a headline story about our speech.

Global Students Speak to Kirkcudbright Rotary Club

In the midst of what I have already written above, I have done actual school work. I promise it’s not all just fun and games/snow and train rides. I remind myself every day that I have a degree to attain. In my Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions in Public Health course my group has been designing a program to mitigate depression among the elderly. This is a top public health issue because in the UK, like many other nations, the elderly population is constantly rising and projected to be at an all-time high by 2050.

For my Health and Human Rights class I chose to focus on the Rohingya Refugees crisis as public health issue but with a rights-based approach for the blog post assignment we were given. Studying more in depth into this situation opened my eyes to the growing need to focus on migration health.  There are currently 2.4 million displaced persons worldwide who often experience many health disparities. Cases such as the Rohingya Crisis are very extreme and need attention.

Two weeks ago I attended an event at Scottish Parliament called Gender and Alcohol which was hosted my Sociology of Health and Illness professor. It was interesting to see this public health problem through a sociological lens, concerning ways society expects women and men to interact with alcohol.  My professor is also one of the directors behind Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems SHAAP. In spite the ongoing stereotype of Scotland being known to have a heavy drinking culture, alcohol abuse does remain a serious issue, which ultimately disproportionately effects low socioeconomic groups in this country.

Last, but not least, in Systematic Reviews I worked on a group project doing a critical analysis on an assigned public health article. Our focus was to evaluate how well the authors collected the information and portrayed the findings in a clear manner for future readers and the ongoing healthcare development for the given topic. I have learned through this course that research, when gained attention and communicated effectively to the public, is truly power.

Due to the snow days and the UK teacher strikes a few of my classes were cancelled or rescheduled. The strikes were due to the unfair pension plans professors were receiving. These strikes caused mixed emotions among the student body mainly due to the fact that students were paying for education with tuition and they weren’t receiving any lectures. On the other hand, lectures did have every right to stand up for fair pension, in some cases they were losing out in up to £10,000 with the policies in place currently. These lectures formed picket lines which many students supported  in universities throughout the country.To learn a bit more about the strikes please check out the link below.

Going forward for the month of April I will be continue to work on my final essays , which all should be turned in my May 4th ( which seems to always be a daunting date for deadlines). After that I am excited to focus fully on my dissertation once the ethics committee approves my proposal. I will have roughly about 4 months to collect data and research to produce my Masters level dissertation which will be due August 23rd.  As I mentioned in the last blog, I applied for a post master degree position with the CDC, which unfortunately I didn’t get due to my return date back to the U.S. and the program’s push to integrate more recent undergrad students. I was down about it at first, but I believe in the truth that when one door closes another opens. If you or someone you know is interested in hiring a fresh innovative mind ready to impact the public health field, let me know. I will send over my resume/CV. The attempt to figuring out the next steps in life after this degree has been on agenda for myself and many of my peers. Fortunately, The University of Edinburgh offers many services for international students to find job placements both in the UK and abroad.

Until next time, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the beginning of spring (depending on where you are in the world)! I wouldn’t be surprise if my fellow Texans are bearing the 80 degrees (F) and above right about now.



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