Hello all, I have just stumbled upon this invaluable forum!
Having an unconventional background as an assistant professor of Computer Science, I am not sure I'm making a strong enough case in my statement of purpose for my transition into international development and global health, which is truly my lifelong dream career.
Here it is ...
Statement of Purpose
My general idea of a dream job is one that involves direct, tangible positive impact on the greater good. At the risk of sounding cliché, a quote by Will Smith resonates very much with me: "I want the world to be better because I am here". Furthermore, I have always felt very strongly about justice and equity. Basic questions such as why there is so much poverty and suffering in the world, and why there is such a huge (and ever widening) gap between the haves and have nots still trouble and intrigue me.
I have also harbored a long-time admiration for people who work in international development, and most notably for the United Nations. But the path to a career in international development was not always clear to me. In fact, my first career of choice was in computer science and academia.
While my current job title says data scientist, I think of myself more as a computer science educator and mentor, with specialization in data science. My first career path as a professor of Computer Science spanned over 17 years and 6 countries, mostly in the Middle East and North Africa.
After obtaining my PhD at the University of Maryland, College Park, I landed a position as a senior research scientist in XXX. I very much enjoyed doing cutting-edge research on face recognition at a leading biometrics company, as well as the perks of living in the proximity of New York City and having a postcard-like view of the Manhattan skyline. However, my inner calling to work in developing countries was too strong to ignore. I felt my contribution could be much more impactful there. And that is how I ended up accepting my first academic position at the XXX in XXX one year later.
My career in higher education has certainly partially fulfilled my passion for contributing to improve the human condition in underserved communities. After 17 years, this career path has run its course for me and I found myself yearning for a couple years now for a different, bigger and more far reaching role. It was only a few months ago, in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic, that the first seeds of a career in global health have been planted in my mind. There is now great need and hence opportunity for contributing novel solutions to strengthen global health systems against such outbreaks. I believe I already have many of the skills required for a successful global health practitioner (data analysis, problem solving, verbal and written communication). An MPH degree will help complement my existing skillset with solid foundations of the theory and practice of public and global health.
I am specifically interested in the monitoring and evaluation of global health systems as an area of concentration for two main reasons. First because it involves a great deal of data analysis and analytics to support evidence-based decision making, which I am already adept at given my background in data science. Second because field work is a fundamental component of M&E. Being an adept communicator and having lived/worked in several countries, the prospect of interacting and working with local communities anywhere in the world is highly appealing to me.
In fact, one of the main reasons I chose to apply to the MPH degree at XXX -of course besides its reputation and its location in Washington, DC- is because it offers the global health M&E concentration, which I believe is a great fit in terms of my interests and background as a data scientist.
Aside from work and academia, I enjoy reading (I prefer biographies), travelling (so far 35 countries in 4 continents), long distance running (I ran 2 marathons), and biking.
In conclusion, a career in international development is my life-long dream and my interest in global health grew ardently over the past year. I believe I have the willpower, vision, maturity, and skillset to become a successful global practitioner and contribute to the improvement of human health. My background and experience in computer and data science also give me a unique perspective that will enrich the diversity of the global health program at XXX.