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Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Gives Graduate Student Tools To Help H-I-V AIDS Victims In Zimbabwe


Nyasha Barkare first exposure to the United States was as a child. It was in 2001 when she came to Washington, DC to work in H-I-V research that she applied and was accepted to the University of Johns Hopkins to pursue a Masters in Public Health. Nyasha tells us about the program. “Well I have studied medicine in Germany and my particular interest has always been to work in the area of infectious diseases and when I came to the United States I realized that working in the field of H-I-V research and vaccine research that the graduate studies in Public Health could really be beneficial to me because in my future career I want to be working in the area of disease control in Africa particularly in Southern Africa because of my background of having grown-up in Zimbabwe,” she says. “So going to Johns Hopkins was a wonderful fit because the school has so much to offer in terms of its focus especially on international health and I am able there to really have an opportunity that I could never have imagined with a very broad range of topics covered in the curriculum there that can prepare me for working in the field of research and in public health in the future so I am very happy that I have the opportunity to be able to come to this program.”

Nyasha says the studies at the University are very one-on-one and not in anyway anonymous which is something that is new to her. She says the open culture at the university is a plus for her. "Well I think besides the initial shock at the large portion of foods in this country, I think that the overwhelming impression that I had is that people really welcome you in this country as a foreigner and I think that was a very pleasant experience for me when I came and I think that in addition to the concrete tools that I have been acquiring during the course of my graduate program, I think one very important thing that I have learned here in the academic environment at least is that there is an open culture when it comes to learning," she says. "I think that I’ve rarely seen a culture that is so conducive to being open to learning new things and I think that is one thing that I would really want to bring wherever I go and to Zimbabwe also is that idea of people being able to ask any questions that they want in a learning environment and have them be answered by whoever the expert is in that field to the best of their ability,” she says. “That no question is to simple to ask. I think that is something I have learn to appreciate here.”

Nyasha has lived on three continents, Germany, Zimbabwe and now here in the United States while she works on her master's degree. She says each country is unique and has something different to offer. “I think it is a little bit different I think that in the United States people are more use to having people come in from the outside and I think that is one of the things that also attracted me to coming to study here especially at universities like Johns Hopkins," she says. "There is a very international community and people are use to being around and interacting with people from other countries and I think that is something that I really have learned to treasure about living here and I think that in many other countries people may be a little more reserve towards people from other places than what I have seen here.”

Nyasha is planning to graduate in May of this year. Following that, she says the real work helping people with H-I-V back in Zimbabwe will begin. “My interest is in the area of disease control and prevention. I’m particularly interested in working to impact the H-I-V epidemic that has currently taken over some much of the African continent and Zimbabwe in particular which is a country that I grew up in and went to school,” she says. “It is a place where H-I-V AIDS has really taken a huge toll on the society and on the country as a whole. So my aim is to go and work and tried to use my skills that I am acquiring here at the MPH program that impacts public health as it pertains to this epidemic.”