Mullah 2 / 5 Jan 6, 2022 #1Letter of MotivationI write to express my interest in the Masters of Epidemiology degree course offered by the University of Antwerp and funding support through the VLIR-UOS Scholarship. My research interest is in children and adolescents, specifically in understanding the effect of childhood trauma on their health and development. I hope to research and design targeted interventions that aim to improve the well-being of children and adolescents who have extreme traumatic experiences. I am particularly keen to study at Antwerp because of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences' research interests and both the quantitative and qualitative focus of the Master's degree and the breadth of subject area covered. The international reputation of the faculty attracts such a variety of students with diverse backgrounds and I believe it will be a stimulating environment in which to study at the masters' level. A master's degree in epidemiology at the University of Antwerp will be an excellent opportunity to understand the essential concepts and dimensions necessary for addressing complex global health problems in my country and other low and middle-income countries.My undergraduate degree in Geographic Information Science (GIS) introduced me to diverse fields in which GIS can be applied, including epidemiology, statistics, and public health. These health-related courses sparked my curiosity for research aimed at improving health outcomes through evidence-based research. In pursuit of my research goals, I successfully applied for a competitive post-graduate research fellowship offered by the XXX hosted by the XXX. During the fellowship, I wrote three scientific papers, which are under review for publication. Two of the papers are empirical studies on incidence, risk factors, hotspots/clustering analysis, spatial distribution) and functional outcomes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in Children and adolescents. The other is a systematic review and a meta-analysis on TBI incidence in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) whose protocol is published at (crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=XXX). The studies highlighted that TBI was a risk factor significantly associated with poor outcomes such as developing seizures and subsequent epilepsy. TBI is common in rural areas, yet most cases are preventable. This calls for public policies and directed efforts to prevent TBI and subsequently reduce TBI-associated disability and mortality.After successfully completing the scholarship, I joined The XXX University, XXX as a research assistant an opportunity that has fostered my personal and professional growth. Currently, I coordinate a project funded by the European Commission (EC) where we are seeking to quantify the burden of mental health problems among adolescents in the context of COVID- 19 in two East African countries (Kenya and Uganda). In this line of work, we have partnered with Civil Society Organizations (CSO) to design and implement projects that aim to improve the wellbeing of adolescents within the two countries. Additionally, I have worked with colleagues from the XXX and XXX to evaluate models that predict poor nutrition status of pregnant Kenyan women during the COVID- 19 pandemic.The skills I have acquired in research, epidemiology, statistics, data analysis, and professional experience have adequately prepared me for postgraduate studies in epidemiology. The comprehensive program including core and elective modules, and research project that the Masters of Epidemiology program offers will provide advanced training in conducting evidence-based research. With expertise, skills gained, and networks built through the degree, I am confident I will conduct cutting-edge research and design programmes to improve the health of children and adolescents who have faced extreme adversity in my country and other LMICs. I will greatly appreciate your consideration for admission and for the scholarship.