School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Student Profile

Carah Figueroa-Crisostomo
Master of International Public Health / Master of Public Health (Dual Degree)
Mode of study : 
Face-to-face and Distance, Part-time
Country : 
Previous Education : 
BMedSc (Hons) (Medical Microbiology and Immunology)

I decided to undertake a MIPH/MPH following my studies in Medical Science (Honours) specialising in Medical Microbiology and Immunology, underscoring my keen interest in infectious disease research. The decision to study a MIPH/MPH was also shaped by my volunteering experience locally and abroad. Recently, in Nepal I undertook a Medical elective project and taught community health to high school students. In Ghana, I undertook a Public Health project working alongside community health nurses and evaluating studies conducted at a health research centre. Like many of you, my long-term ambition is to improve global health and engage with communities in low and middle income countries, so I considered MIPH/MPH as a stepping stone to advance my public health career.

I especially chose to study a Masters at UNSW because I was drawn to the calibre of the academic and research staff. I was also attracted to the range of SPHCM programs offered, the research strengths of the School and the extensive international links that the SPHCM has developed. Notwithstanding, I completed my undergraduate degree at UNSW, so choosing to continue my MIPH/MPH studies here was a fairly easy decision to make, especially since UNSW is regarded one of Australia’s leading research universities.

It is intuitive to many of us that health is influenced by many different factors. However, understanding different theories and perspectives to thinking about health problems and behaviour is perhaps the most illuminating albeit challenging aspect of my studies (so far). I have come to really appreciate the challenges present in the field,  especially for disease prevention and control, health promotion, and public health advocacy. Another important thing I have learnt is to not underestimate the value of your own experience when participating in discussions with your peers. You may feel as though you are ‘new’ to the field of public health, but everyone is in the same boat and brings a unique experience to the program.

The thing I have enjoyed most so far in my studies is the diversity of the students in the program. Students from different social and cultural backgrounds share a wealth of knowledge and ideas that is wonderful to engage with, even by distance in the online environment. I have learnt different personal perspectives about certain public health issues that have challenged my own assumptions and enhanced my learning.

My message to newly commencing students is to try to constantly engage with media, social media and other information sources to keep abreast with developments in the field of public health. You may want to subscribe to newsletter/email digests from different public health organisations, non-government organisations, aid agencies, research centres or other groups. I find this helps to supplement your studies and enriches your learning. It is also important to remember that the staff at SPHCM, have worked across multiple disciplines and in various places- they can provide valuable advice and guidance related to your degree and interests.

I have a strong interest in international/ global health, especially in infectious disease control and sustainable sanitation and development. Hence, in five years time, I see myself working in the Asia-Pacific region or Africa undertaking postgraduate research and/or working as part of a project team.