You know the feeling? When you get something you really wanted, and you are not sure why you want it, but you know that you do. I really wanted to blog, I am not sure why but I know I do want to give it a try. So here I am, sitting in front of my computer, thinking to myself “What did I get myself into?”
As is usual with these things, one does not know where to start. I had an opening line somewhere in my head that went something like “It would probably make the most sense if I used my first post to introduce myself and give you and an idea of the journey that brought me to the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.” The journey? Imagine that! Maybe I could sell tickets?
So I could go on and tell you about my super interesting background. But these days, the world is so small that you meet all kinds of people in the most unlikely corner. I mean, who would have thought that less than 50 years after MLK we would have a black president in the White House? What a trip! As if that is not exotic enough, a president who is half Kenyan. It boggles the mind……
And this brings me to a nice starting point for my introduction.
My name is Leon Espira and I have come to University of Michigan, where l am first year MPH student in the General Epidemiology track, via Kenya, Russia, the Netherlands and my current home, Canada – oh yes, with a good (and good is the operative word here) dose of San Francisco. And I hope my journey has only begun. I come from a genetics background, having done my undergraduate and master’s degrees in genetics and physiology, and pursued a fairly exciting little career in the field since leaving school. All the same, I always felt that I was missing my calling and started thinking of Public Health, and Epidemiology in particular, as something that would allow me to combine science and policy, exploration and delivery – you know, the questions and the solutions. It was after working in the Netherlands on disease diagnostics that I made up my mind that I will become a Public Health professional. And unlike my decision to blog, I am pretty sure I know what I am doing in this field.
So I did my homework – or rather was pushed to do it by a well-meaning and rather overbearing family member (I hope he reads this) – and begun my search for a school and a track. I visited schools, spoke to dozens of excellent people – students, administrators and researchers – and was stuck with a choice between Berkeley, Washington and Michigan. I never thought it would be so hard to pick a school! And from I remember from my visit days, a lot of prospective students were grappling with the same. I was living in San Francisco then and completely in love with the Bay Area, and as you can imagine, had a hard time not picking Berkeley. And Washington? The rain (yes, I love rain, and you should too), the forests and the sea. But I picked Michigan because it had the most interesting research, great faculty and what I consider really key – a great collaborative culture between different schools and departments. I know, I know – the logical choice – how boring, right? No – I love it here and I am pretty sure in picking the University Of Michigan, I made the right choice.
It’s been 3 weeks since classes begun. I was a little jittery getting into it all after a 3 year break, but I have to say, it has been better than I expected. Everything gels into a coherent narrative, and it all seems so well-built around us – the students – that I feel completely at ease. I am enjoying all my classes, from my core courses (Biostatistics 553, Epidemiology 600) to my electives (a Geographic Information Systems course I rather like maps), I am loving being a student again.
I am already thinking ahead – a summer internship, more school – and then back into the world. I am here to make sure I come out sorted. There is so much to do for a public health professional out there, so much to change, so much to influence – I cannot wait. Until then, I’ll blog my way through school.