I am applying to MPH programs. I would appreciate feedback for personal statement.
It was late in the evening when I received my sister's call. She sobbed uncontrollably. I pressed my phone firmly against my ear, but I could barely make out her words. I offered words of comfort and waited patiently for her cries to subside. There was a brief moment of silence before she spoke again. Composed, she repeated herself slowly, her words trembling with fear. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I began to grasp the magnitude of her unexpected call-my younger sister was pregnant at 16.
My sister's pregnancy defied the strict Nigerian principles upon which we had been raised. Though there was no explicit mention of premarital sex within our family, there was an unspoken understanding that it was taboo. My family and I did not openly discuss sexual issues; my sisters and I were forced to explore this topic on our own. Consequently, when I received the news of my sister's pregnancy, I was completely overwhelmed by a feeling a guilt. I had failed to speak; I had failed to be a source of support during her time of sexual development and curiosity.
As a Human Science major, I have always had an interest in health care and the natural sciences. My coursework has allowed me to develop a keen understanding of how disturbances in biological systems can influence one's health. However, I have never fully appreciated the concept of social and environmental influences on health until my sister's pregnancy. I began to further explore this concept in the fall of my junior year during Professor XX's Health Promotion/Disease Prevention course, and it was here that I was introduced to the field of public health. The course required us to perform a needs assessment of the student population based on self-reported health behavior data, and to propose a health promotion program that would successfully target these needs. I was able to apply the principles of the social and behavioral sciences to design a stress reduction program. Although program development is simply one component of public health practice, this requirement of the course sparked my interest in the field.
I am most interested in adolescent sexual and reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS. I want to be an outlet for youth who may come from family situations like my own. I believe that it is important for adolescents to be in a supportive environment where they feel comfortable asking questions related to sexual issues. I hope to empower adolescents through knowledge so that they can make responsible sexual health decisions. Far too many youth are unaware of the consequences that arise from risky sexual practices, as evidenced by the current HIV/AIDS epidemic among the youth population. Many sexual health programs are ineffective.
Consequently, for my senior independent research project, I chose to explore the specific implementation methods of successful comprehensive sex and STD/HIV education programs. My research was largely influenced by my experience with the DC STD School-Based Screening program. While volunteering with the program, I had the opportunity to speak with many students about their sexual health practices, and I was disappointed to learn of the lack of preventive measures used among the student population. Though the screening program includes a sexual health presentation, this is not enough to encourage behavior change among students. I felt compelled to act.
In response, I helped organize a sexual health workshop for the youth of the XXX program, a mentorship program for vulnerable youth in the D.C. community. The workshop included games, group discussions and role playing scenarios. The activities were designed to provide the youth with a greater understanding of sexual health and the consequences that may arise from risky sexual practices. They were exposed to real life situations that called for the knowledge of preventive methods.
My research, internship and community involvement activities have confirmed my desire to continue along the academic path. Through a Masters of Public Health program, I hope to gain a comprehensive understanding of public health research and practice. I am especially driven to explore the social determinants of sexual and reproductive health, particularly why racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by negative health outcomes. I am confident of contributing originally to the ongoing work XXX.
In addition, the interdisciplinary nature of the Community Health and Prevention Department at XXX appeals to me. Likewise, I am drawn to XXX because of its strong emphasis on community based learning. I am excited at the opportunity to translate classroom knowledge into practical field experience. I am confident that your program will enable me to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully design, implement and evaluate sexual health prevention programs which target minority youth populations. I believe that I am a student with the intellectual capacity and the passion and commitment to excel at your program. I feel that graduate study at XXX will be the most logical extension of my academic pursuits and a major step towards achieving my objectives.
The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA)
CIRA seeks to prevent HIV infection and reduce the negative consequences of HIV in vulnerable and underserved populations through theory-based, interdisciplinary research. This mission is served by the expertise of HIV prevention scientists at Yale University from a broad array of disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, sociology, epidemiology, public health, biostatistics, adult and pediatric infectious diseases, operations research, medical ethics, law, and health policy. A primary objective of CIRA is to train the next generation of HIV/AIDS scientists. See CIRA's site for further information.
Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in HIV/AIDS
Through its Interdisciplinary HIV Prevention Training Program, CIRA will provide tuition and stipend for Pre-Doctoral Fellows, who will complete formal coursework, qualifying examinations, and the doctoral dissertation in the Yale School of Public Health. Additionally, Fellows will be exposed to the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary HIV prevention science through educational seminars and through their direct collaborations with CIRA scientist mentors. Fellows will gain hands-on experience in HIV-related research and interventions, and participate in all aspects of our AIDS center. Yale University will award the Ph.D. upon successful completion of the program.
Yale University provides an exceptional training environment. Through these Fellowships, new scientists are equipped with the skills to advance prevention research and to address future challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other emerging diseases. This Training Program will prepare students to think critically, and to address issues common between HIV and other diseases, such as barriers to and facilitators of behavioral change and understanding the public health response required to stem an epidemic. This HIV Prevention Training Program is unique in providing an interdisciplinary approach; a focus on vulnerable and underserved populations; a strong methodological foundation; opportunities to conduct ethically-sound, community based research, domestically and internationally; emphasis on legal, policy, and ethical analysis of HIV prevention science; and opportunities to work on both descriptive and intervention studies, studying individuals, families, social networks, communities, and society at large.
Applicants must be US citizens or have non-citizen national or permanent resident status at the time of application. Applications from minority students are strongly encouraged. Past experience in HIV-related research is not required, but a commitment to this area of inquiry should be articulated in your personal statement. Applicationdeadline is December 15.
Notification of acceptance and fellowship awards are generally made during March or April. On-line applications are used - see the website of the Graduate School for information and applications.