Elizabeth Isimhen Williams Originally from Nigeria and the USA, Elizabeth Isimhen Williams is a nutrition programme manager at Helen Keller International, Bangladesh, and an online MPH graduate from the University of Liverpool.

What motivated you to study an MPH online with the University of Liverpool?

I wanted to study an MPH because I recognised it would provide me with the skills to be more effective at my work. The University of Liverpool was a very convenient option that combined flexibility in timing with the level of educational challenge I desired.

What are the main advantages of studying online?

It’s the flexible timing. The freedom to set your own study and graduation plan.

What are the highlights from your time as an online MPH student?

The richness of the discussions. Being able and required to synthesise and communicate my individual understanding of texts and public health issues enabled me to gain a dynamic understanding of public health themes that was grounded in the reality of practising professionals.

Another highlight was when I got to report on gender roles at a popular fish market close to my house during a practical participant observation exercise for the Qualitative Methods for Public Health Research module. The exercise put a completely new spin on my perspective of the activities carried out at a location that I had often visited. Until then, I had never really observed it to interpret its activities for research. It was a thoroughly rewarding exercise which made me realise the varied dimensions that even the most frequented events or locations can present.

What challenges have you faced during the programme?

Balancing time to study, work and care for a family. It was always difficult to adequately relax because my weekends were actually the beginning of the study week. However, any sort of proper academic achievement demands exertion.

Who did you meet in the virtual classroom?

I met professionals from different parts of the world. There were medical doctors from Europe working in Tanzania; other doctors and nurses from Nigeria working in Nigeria and the United Kingdom; North American nurses working in Canada and Brazilian psychologists working in Mozambique. My classes were always diverse and with exceptionally interesting professionals.

How is your MPH study helping you to make a difference in your career and community?

First, the MPH enabled me to qualify for more senior level positions within organisations. It gave me the skills which prepared me to propose, plan and implement interventions, policies and partnerships which more closely address public health challenges in low income countries where I work. The programme also gave me access to a lot of useful technical resource materials, journals and publications which enabled me become more effective at my work.

I would recommend the University of Liverpool because…

it is a flexible, challenging and practical programme which combines public health theory and modern applications with sharing from experienced students and faculty.

Research

For her University of Liverpool online MPH dissertation, Elizabeth explored the effects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) on beneficiaries’ determinants of health in a semi-urban community in Gaza province Mozambique.

“I chose the topic because it was related to my work and I had always been intrigued by the possible effects PEPFAR was having on factors which determine paticipants’ long-term health. It was also a topic on which very little or no research had been carried out,” said Elizabeth. Having her research abstract accepted for presentation at the October 2012 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) is a “very positive, unexpected reward.”

“I've always been interested in working with projects which galvanise people within a community around a common cause to improve their lives. My professional fascination with public health began as a teenager in a public secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria, when I joined the "health and life planning club" and got trained as a reproductive health peer educator. With that experience, my family values and the reality of growing up in a complex megacity, I committed to being part of part of the solution for better public health.”, she said.


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