Engaged Learning

In search of a meaningful professional journey, Lwam Ghebregergish, MPH student is Changing the World From Here.

I came to the US a couple of years ago from a small, developing country in East Africa called Eritrea. I already had a bachelor’s degree in computer science; however, within a few years in “the real world” I was not satisfied and needed a change. After researching different universities and programs, the University of San Francisco’s Masters in Public Health program was just perfect. It provided not only an avenue to learn and work in the health field and help people, which is where my true passion lays, but I could also apply my computer science knowledge and skills.

Even though I had just given birth to my first child a couple of weeks prior, I decided to take the reins and apply to join the MPH program in 2020. I started classes in the fall semester and found some of the smartest and dedicated professors I had ever encountered. I had made the right call!

Through the MPH program’s student portal I learned about the COVID-19 Data Project, a volunteer-driven project started by Broadstreet Institute. I was having a difficult time staying at home and practicing social distance to keep myself and others safe. I was feeling so helpless, so I jumped at the chance to join as a volunteer. This was something I could do to actually help stop the pandemic and have an impact. In particular, the project objective was to collect and prepare data on COVID-19 across the US on a county level including infections and mortalities, race and ethnicity breakdowns, as well as vaccine distribution. I enrolled as a data collection intern, collecting and sanitizing race and ethnicity data daily for a set number of counties. Once I felt comfortable doing this, I spoke with the leaders and asked for more responsibilities. I was soon invited to the data analytics team who took the collected data and prepared visualizations to be published. The project’s datasets and certain analytic efforts are already published! "Reliability of COVID-19 data: An evaluation and reflection." The courses I took as an MPH student including Health Policy, Biostatistics and Epidemiology provided the required skill set to use data analytical tools to contribute to this team as well. It was not long before I was promoted from data collection to Quality-Assurance lead where I took on the responsibility of validating data collected by other volunteers.

Working on the COVID-19 project reaffirmed my decision to join the USF MPH program. I am pursuing a professional journey that I not only enjoy with passion, but that it is also very rewarding and fulfilling. I cannot wait to complete my studies and go out to “change the world from here.”