Manizeh Afridi, Public Health ’15

Spotlight: Manizeh Afridi, Public Health ‘15

October 05, 2016

  •  

    To Manizeh Afridi, Public Health ’15, the field public health is an exciting path, first and foremost because all roads lead to it.

    “Public health is so exciting because everything is public health. From the Ebola epidemic to the Zika virus to the Cholera epidemic to the Flint water crisis. Global warming, police violence, inequality, the U.S. presidential election … everything around us leads back to public health,” she says.

    A recent graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), Manizeh hopes to eventually work with the CDC and the WHO – a path that has led her to graduate school. She was accepted to every MPH program she applied for, and is now pursuing her MPH at New York University.

    By channeling her passion with hard work and determination, she is on her way to achieving her goals.

    Manizeh shared more about public health at MCPHS and the vital role of mentorship.

    First of all, what drew you to the field of public health?

    The fact that the field of public health encompasses more than just one’s physical health. Public health tackles the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of populations as a whole through research, prevention, education, communication, health promotion, ad campaigns, laws, policies, and more.

    What do you find exciting about the field?

    Unlike doctors, who work to treat people who are already sick, those who work in public health work to prevent people from getting sick in the first place. And because of that fact, public health saves money, improves quality of life, and promotes self-efficacy by looking at health from the personal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and public policy perspectives.

    You have worked closely with Dr. Keri Griffin, PhD, MPH, MPA, MCHES, who is Director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program and an Assistant Professor of Public Health. How has her mentorship helped you succeed?

    Dr. Griffin’s mentorship has been invaluable. Dr. Griffin has motivated me to tackle the issues I am most passionate about. She has given me opportunities and guided me towards platforms where I can research and talk about these issues both in class settings and in professional settings/conferences.

    Dr. Griffin inspired me hold myself to higher standards when it comes to my work and my passions. She has helped me find my focus and has truly prepared me for my next step. I feel so confident and ready for grad school where I will earn my MPH.

    You worked on a research project with Professor Griffin titled “Gender Disparities and Non-Communicable Disease Prevalence in Korangi, Pakistan,” which was accepted for presentation at the 2013 Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association annual conference. Why did you choose this topic?

    I chose this topic because all my life I have traveled back and forth between Pakistan and Boston – from my family’s country of origin to the place I call home. Over the last 7 years, I had been going to Pakistan to help with relief work after earthquakes and other natural disasters devastated major areas of the country. During the earthquakes, many of the men in these areas had been injured or killed and I distributed food and medical supplies to those remaining, mainly groups of internally displaced women and children. The majority of the women I met throughout this work suffered from diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease, mental health issues, and other non-communicable diseases. These trends led me to research whether non-communicable diseases in Pakistan were directly related to gender disparities.

    How did this experience help you grow as a student and a future public health professional?

    Working with Dr. Griffin on this research was an eye opening experience. At first I did not think I was capable of putting something like this together for a professional conference but Dr. Griffin gave me the guidance and confidence to do so.

    After presenting at that conference, I felt motivated and inspired to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities because Dr. Griffin made me realize how important and unique my research really was. This led to me presenting this same research at the American Public Health Association Annual Conference in Boston later that year.

    Congrats! What was that experience like?

    I was the only undergraduate student in public health presenting a poster at this meeting; the rest of the people presenting were mostly graduate students. Presenting at this conference was nerve-racking at first. I thought my research would not be as advanced as everyone else’s simply because I was so much younger than everyone else presenting. But as everything got started, all of these graduate students and professors and professionals would stop to ask me about my research and were all very impressed.

    Congratulations on your successes, including being accepted to every Master of Public Health program you applied to! What are you most looking forward to at your chosen school, NYU?

    Thank you! I’m truly excited to attend NYU to earn my Master of Public Health degree because I know that Dr. Griffin has really prepared me for this step. MCPHS’s Public Health program is so advanced because it basically teaches you everything that you are going to have to learn at a graduate level. From Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Biomedical Science, Community Health, Medical Anthropology, Environmental Health, Health policy, absolutely every class that you take prepares you for life after graduation whether you decide you are ready to go into the work field or to continue education.

    Looking forward, how will having both a BS and Master’s in Public Health help you in your future career?

    After I graduate from NYU having both a BS and an MPH in Public Health, it will help me further my focus as I choose my future career – whether it be in law or communications and health campaigns.

    Looking back, do you have a piece of advice for high school students who are thinking about a career in public health?

    An education in public health will give you the tools that are necessary for creating a positive change in the world. If you are passionate about something that affects lives, it most likely leads back to public health. Know that public health has an avenue for you where you can take action to make the world a better place.

    Interested in making a positive impact on the world like Manizeh Afridi, BSPH ‘15? We offer Bachelor and Master’s degree programs in Public Health on our Boston campus, as well as an online MPH program.