The further some people go in their education, the more specialized they get. Not so for Ndubisi Okeke. A dual degree student at the Yale School of Public Health and School of Management, every experience he’s had in public health has led him to expand his horizons and develop a macro view of the world. When studying abroad as an undergraduate premed student, he saw the impact possible with population and public health programming in developing nations. He was able to supplement this experience his senior year by studying international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Next, Ndubisi entered the Peace Corps. In that seminal experience, he worked in Uganda delivering health education and behavior change messaging on various health topics with a focus on HIV, all while helping to build capacity among local educators and his fellow volunteers. In addition, he was a lead coordinator implementing PEPFAR initiatives in Uganda, delivering week-long workshops to engage and empower people representing the most at-risk populations to be community leaders equipped with the knowledge and skills to positively impact their peers. Ndubisi helped facilitate open, honest dialogue about best practices for healthcare delivery among fringe populations between local government health officials and implementing partners in the area. “For the first time, I saw the need for greater integration,” said Ndubisi, who believes that in some instances, the field of public health doesn’t reach far enough. “Health is tied to wealth, and so many need opportunities. You can’t adequately address health risks and behaviors for the most vulnerable when they go home to poverty.”
This insight led Ndubisi to expand his view through graduate work in health policy and business. Public health, he says, helps you understand the world better in terms of thinking things through from multiple perspectives in search of root causes. Ndubisi’s public health internship as a policy fellow at a pharmaceutical company gave him a deeper understanding of how public and private sector actions have direct impact on people’s everyday lives. This bolstered his belief that he can play a role finding solutions by facilitating interdisciplinary points of view and implementing policy change. “I like problem solving and thinking about systemic solutions. What it means to be healthy is so intricately integrated with other things. In the end, the need for everyone’s input is necessary for the solutions the world has been calling for.”