Studying Global Public Health Amidst a Global Pandemic

A studentʼs perspective

Photo of Esofi
A laptop showing the gallery view of a Zoom call.

The Beginning…March 2020

When I first became aware of the novel coronavirus, I, like many other NYU students, was largely uncertain about how it would affect my college experience. I vividly recall the bewildered expression on my face as I read an email from my chemistry professor in response to the virus. The email informed us that our classes would take place on a virtual video conference platform called Zoom.

As one can imagine, the initial transition online was rather difficult. We were not only required to learn differently but also communicate differently. Yet looking back on those first few months of 2020, amidst the chaos of the world and the changing news headlines, I am grateful for a few things. For one, the University was proactive in ensuring our—and the wider university communityʼs—safety. For another, this time positively influenced my dual major, Global Public Health and Sociology.

A Year Later…

Global Public Health and Sociology major Esofi Nunyi, wearing a mask.
Quick selfie before class!

By spring 2021, virtual learning was the new normal. At the time, I was taking two public health courses: Health Policy and Epidemiology. Global pandemic or not, global public health students at NYU have the opportunity to learn from professors who are key leaders in the field. For instance, my Health Policy professor was the CEO of a hospital. Therefore, we learned about health-care spending; health-care reform; access to care; policymaking; and more right from the source. Throughout the semester, class discussions shifted in real time as new developments regarding the coronavirus or health policy occurred.

Using the breakout room feature, I engaged in group projects and presentations that mimicked the collaborative work I will conduct in my future career. Furthermore, virtual learning allowed our class to bring in many guest speakers who otherwise would not have been able to attend. (We even had a public health official call in from South America!) A representative of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospitalʼs vaccine rollout was one of the most intriguing virtual guest speakers. The representative spoke in depth about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and citywide disparities in the prevalence of COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, a very well-known member of the House of Representatives called in to thank us for studying global public health.

Today…

So after a really long year, or a really short one depending on how you look at it, the University has returned to in-person courses. And vaccine compliancy throughout the globe means the “end” to the pandemic may be near. However, this is certainly not the “end” to the interesting experiences and knowledge I gained and will gain from my global public health courses. With public health, there is always something to discuss.

Ultimately, I am very satisfied with the unforgettable conversations that transpired during my global public health courses over the past year. I was able to formulate my passions for public health more deeply and better understand why I pursued it in the first place. Currently, I am taking biostatistics and a research methods course. All in all, I am looking forward to reflecting again a year from now to see, once more, what Iʼve accomplished.