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Dr Robert Edinger with Son David

Global Health Fellowship Program, African Refugee

I am writing in support of my application to your Global HIV Surveillance Fellowship Program.  In addition to the fact that I am a nursing professional and I am now in my last semester of an MPH Program, the principal strength of my application is the fact that I came to America as a refugee from Africa;  and I have lost several family members to HIV/AIDS, including three uncles and my grandmother. Thus, I am familiar with many of the central challenges involved in HIV/AIDS Surveillance and I am highly motivated, on personal as well as professional levels.

America offered me a wealth of opportunity to improve myself in many ways. Most importantly I became a registered nurse, which has given me a great sense of pride and achievement. My nursing career has fulfilled until now and brought me great joy.  As I have become increasingly Americanized and professionally successful, I have begun to think more and more about infectious diseases in the world and the people who suffer from them, the causes and consequences of illness and disease, constantly reflecting on the types of prevention methods and disease management strategies that work best in  particular areas of the world—especially the Developing World, replete with all of the special public health challenges that generally accompany poverty. And it is the hope, the vision of making significant contributions to the battle against contagious disease that inspired me to earn the MPH Degree. I ask for acceptance to your competitive program because of my extremely high level of motivation to join that elite group of scientists and health care pioneers on the cutting edge of our global response to HIV/AIS.

I had the opportunity to visit my birthplace in Africa after so many years, just lucky enough to see the home I grow up in and spend time with the family members that I have left. I sorely missed several close friends that I grew up with, my three uncles, and my grandma. It was this first and only trip back to Africa that set me on a direct course to a full immersion in public health and the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide, and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular.

I am currently working as a registered nurse and completing my last semester to earn my MPH. My education and   eight years of nursing experience have provided me with a vivid understanding of health problems and bolstered my passion for public health and epidemiology. Increasingly, I have been able to see a fuller picture with respect to health care challenges, and to think in long term sustainable ways about how to best provide health services.

Public health presents us with enormous challenges indeed in sub-Saharan Africa, especially when many issues are so multifaceted and tangled with much larger social and cultural problems.   It is for this reason that I so hope to participate in your fellowship program because I see a strong surveillance program to be the principal foundation for any chance at even containing much less eradicating the disease for the long term.

By being given the honor of participating in your global surveillance fellowship program, I hope to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to best establish and operate HIV surveillance systems as the central aspect of my own public health research and practice.   I am especially drawn to the program because of its strong emphasis on the ‘global’ aspect of our battle. I see your program as the optimal springboard upon which to make progress in my long term goals, developing the critical partnerships along the way that I will need in order to become as successful as possible at saving the lives of future generations of poor and disadvantaged people, the most vulnerable among us.

I am particularly excited at the prospect of being able to use every aspect of my character and achievements all toward a central professional goal and research focus: my MPH, nursing experience, and my ability to speak and write two major African languages--Amharic and Tigrigna. It is my sincere hope that all of these factors taken together will enable me to excel in research in the field.

I am confident that this program will enable me to develop the knowledge and skill necessary to successfully design and implement surveillance programs and to think critically and creatively about global health programs and challenges, especially with respect to developing countries.

I thank you for consideration of my application.   

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