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During my last months of high school, I was going through a period of exploration of sorts––what I call my “documentary phase.” During that stage, the bulk of my free time was spent watching informational films and clips about various health and social justice issues in parts of the Global South. I am not quite as obsessive now as I was then but every once in a while, in personal moments of reflection, I am brought back to this time, wondering what might have inspired it and analyzing what it has come to mean.

Photo by Augusto Oazi on Unsplash

At the time, it was a form of escape from the STEM-heavy curriculum that seemed to be colonizing my mind. But I also believe that I had come to enjoy the perspective that it offered, one that was allowing me to view health and life through a more subjective and personal lens, which I wasn’t accustomed to. In time, I began exploring more, researching fields that married healthcare and scientific study with this new holistic mode of approaching matters of health. My search eventually led me to the disciplines of global and public health, both of which seemed to encompass my existing academic interests whilst incorporating this developing one.

This epiphany couldn’t have come at a more convenient time, as I was struggling with the imminent end of a previous life chapter and faced with making decisions that would indelibly mark the next. Months before I had decided that I no longer wanted to major in one of the natural sciences, but wasn’t sure what the alternative would be. With this moment of realization, however, I was motivated me to veer away from a path that was beginning to feel like a default and chose to pursue my new interests further.

Photo of Zainab in Tecpan, Guatemala

Fast-forward three years, and I am still grateful for my decision, as intimidating as it was to make at the time. The Human Health program has offered me more knowledge and perspective than ever expected, exposing me to issues within health and modes of understanding them that I wasn’t aware existed. At present, my academic interests encompass issues surrounding race, culture, gender, and health, particularly how each work both collectively and alone to shape patterns of wellness and health-based experiences at the individual level. My current writing interests include medical pluralism in modern medical practice and issues surrounding women’s and maternal health across various healthcare models.

Science continues to be a long-standing interest and intellectual commitment of mine but is now making room for the humanistic focuses of health that arise at the intersection of disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and psychology. I ultimately hope to be able to establish a balance in which these two passions––as strong as they are––are able to complement one another in the work that I do, which hopefully contributes to on-going efforts to equalize standards and experiences of health universally.