I think politics focuses on the big picture (which is, of course, incredibly important). But, a classmate and friend of mine reminded me that the little things, those random acts of kindness, make a really big difference, too. She gave a speech which I found to be so incredibly moving about how she went to Guatemala hoping to change the world. She returned to the U.S. one year later, feeling discouraged and defeated. A friend reminded her, however, that you can make a difference in the world, one little act of kindness at a time. Her speech was a powerful reminder of the importance of a commitment to service, which is a focus that HSPH really lacked last year.
In a similar class I'm taking, I've had the opportunity to reflect on my values, passions, and goals. I gave my own speech about how my grandfather and my mother have been inspirations to me in using higher education for the good of public service. The fact is that several of us were admitted to HSPH based on the platform of a commitment to service; it is our choice to uphold that.
The courses that my friend and I took - Marshal Gantz's Public Narrative course and Timothy McCarthy's Art of Communications course - are not HSPH courses. In fact, we both felt that there was too little emphasis on practical skills such as communication at HSPH. But the beauty of our curriculum is that we're allowed to take courses at other Harvard schools, so we both chose two of the most popular courses at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
I can say without a doubt that the course I am taking is one of the best and most inspiring courses I have ever taken. Professor McCarthy doesn't just want us to give speeches and improve our ability to communicate; instead, he wants us to really search within ourselves for why we have the interests and passions that we do and use that understanding to convey and call others to action. Professor McCarthy is an absolutely amazing professor whose course has really changed my life! I know it sounds so cliche, but it's really true. His course has done a few things for me that I really needed at this point of my academic career:
- This course reaffirmed my commitment to investigating cultural competency in global health policy. I'm much more confident in my future aspirations to pursue doctoral studies in this area (although I know that I need to do more research on what institution would be the best fit for me).
- This course reminded me why I became interested in public health and where my passions lie. In high school, I believed that I was going to try to make it big on Broadway! I really had a passion for musical theater and believed that someway, somehow, that would be my destiny. But in 2003, my mom had a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and conduct research in the southern African country of Namibia, so I ended up spending a year in international school. Among my experiences there included a one year volunteer term with the Roman Catholic AIDS Center, where I became moved by the AIDS orphans I worked with. The little bit that I was able to do in regards to creative expression and empowerment inspired me to pursue International Relations, which then translated into global health policy, which brings us to today.