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Headshot of Vida Rompas.

Vida Rompas BSPH ‘19, MBA ‘22 to Study Epidemiology at the University of London

  • Vida Rompas has a global mindset. Born in Indonesia, she grew up moving around the Middle East, as her father was in the oil business; in addition to her native country, she spent time in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, where she currently lives. Vida developed an early interest in medicine and decided that she wanted to pursue a premedical degree. Hoping to continue her life’s international flavor, applied to programs in the United States, and she chose MCPHS.

    But as a youth living in Abu Dhabi, Vida had volunteered at a health center at the city’s Indonesian embassy. The experience would influence the course of her life. "Being able to connect where I came from with where I was physically living was really great for me,” Vida says. “I learned a lot through that experience, including the clinical side of healthcare, which I was looking for, but also the more systematic parts of healthcare. How was the health center funded? How does [the center’s] policy interact with local UAE policy?”

    Vida Rompas at a task force on health and exercise.
    An outreach event for the Indonesian Diaspora in Muscat, Oman – Task Force Health, where Vida volunteers.

    Part of her journey to premed, says Vida, was volunteering in different healthcare contexts like the embassy health center, which served Indonesian immigrants with complex issues like visas and coverage. “Exposure to how immigration influences accessibility to healthcare made me really interested in public health,” she says. “I ended up declaring that as a minor, and after taking a few more classes, I made the switch and became a public health major.”

    Vida graduated from MCPHS in 2019 with a public health bachelor’s degree, along with minors in premed and health psychology. During her studies, she had focused her interest to epidemiology—she currently finds herself drawn to learning about neglected tropical diseases—along with her passion for public health. “I knew epidemiology was something I could apply to any health issue,” she says, “and it would give me the flexibility and the skill set to work from different parts of the world.”

    After graduation, Vida applied to different graduate epidemiology programs, but as an international student with limited scholarship eligibility, she had to put that plan on hold. So she explored the MCPHS Advantage Scholarship—which offers MCPHS graduates a 100% tuition scholarship toward one of six part-time, online master’s programs—to find a course of study that could compliment her epidemiology pursuits. So she enrolled in the MBA in healthcare management program, which she takes online from Oman and is set to complete in 2022. During the first year of the program, she decided to apply for jobs, but nothing immediately panned out. She applied to new epidemiology programs—and this time she was accepted into one of the world’s best: the epidemiology program at the University of London, under the academic direction of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The University of London is the alma mater of John Snow (no, not the Game of Thrones character) who is considered the founder of the discipline.

    Vida says that MCPHS was helpful during the application progress. She worked closely with Keri Griffin, PhD, MPH, MPA, MCHES, Associate Professor of Public Health, Director, Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program, and Francis Melaragni, DHS, MBA, Associate Professor & Director of the Pharmaceutical Business Program, the latter of whom she had worked with studying the opioid epidemic. She received recommendation letters from both. “They were both very, very supportive,” Vida says. “They both met up with me via Zoom and were able to flesh out my application with me. I'm really thankful for that support.”

    So what does Vida plan to do with her robust education once she’s finished with her studies? She says she doesn’t yet have a singular job position in mind yet, but she knows she wants to help people and work globally. She will likely be steered by her interest in neglected tropical diseases: “Part of the reason why it interested me so much is because I do come from Indonesia. It is one the countries that is so easily affected by these diseases,” which disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries. The intersection of epidemiology and public health policy intrigues her.

    And yes, Vida recognizes that her interest in epidemiology emerged shortly before a global pandemic. She says that COVID-19 has solidified her understanding of how vital her path of study is, and she looks forward to making a difference in the years to come.