Hayley Freedman

European Masters of Public HealthHayley170

I received my BA in Psychology and Anthropology in 2009 from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. The following year, I served as a Field Team Leader with AmeriCoprs NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), Pacific Region. I led a dynamic team of nine in direct service projects addressing community-defined needs in areas including environmental conservation and tourism, education, and affordable housing in California, Oregon and Utah. After concluding my term of service, I moved to Mozambique where I served the next 27 months with the Peace Corps as a community health volunteer working in HIV/AIDs prevention, mitigation and health promotion. From 2012-2013, I took on the role of Monitoring & Evaluation and Communications (MEC) Officer for the Primeiras & Segundas Program of the CARE-WWF Alliance, a flagship, co-equal conservation and development program in Northern Mozambique. I concluded my work in Mozambique in early December 2013.

While I gained valuable experience during my years of service, I knew that I needed to gain more concrete skills, knowledge and expertise to adequately contribute to improving healthcare systems and access. With practical field experience, public health was the right field of study to choose. After setting a goal of obtaining a Masters in Public Health (MPH), I began to explore programs, both in the United States and internationally. I came across Erasmus + Masters courses which provide unique pathways to a degree through study in multiple institutions across Europe. The University of Sheffield is one of the six member institutions for Erasmus + Masters in Public Health program (Europubhealth). With a reputation of top-rated research, teaching excellence, and emphasis on public health, the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) was the ideal choice for completion of the core components of the degree.

In seeking the right degree program for me, I knew I wanted to learn in an international setting. The University of Sheffield is home to students of over 100 nationalities. Many countries are represented in my department. Public Health at its core is a global discipline. I am continually impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge that surrounds me. My education is enriched by the diversity of perspectives and unique experiences of my classmates. Second, ScHARR is home to a faculty of experienced researchers with interests and expertise in a broad range of specialties within the health sciences. There is something to be said for participating in a lecture taught by some of the most accomplished and respective names in the field.

The most valuable aspects of my course include its core foundational elements as well as specialized topical modules. The course introduces students to the foundational principles and methodologies of the discipline that, in hand, enable them to swiftly and confidently engage in the literature and pertinent issues. With core competencies in place, students are able to explore a variety of specialized areas taught by faculty with expertise and intimate knowledge.

In the case of my department, my lecturers and tutors facilitate the learning process rather than directly teach material. Rather than be told what is or is not by a lecturer in a class, one is expected to explore, debate, and reflect upon a session’s topics and reading material. This allows for a much more dynamic learning process. Students are formally assessed in either a final exam or one or two comprehensive assignments for each course. While some may find a more structured style that includes more graded work preferable, others embrace the freedom and challenge of taking ownership of their own learning. Students develop your own theories, perspectives and opinions on what they find most critical for their development, rather than are fed specific ideologies.

An education from the University of Sheffield prepares students for future success in their respective fields and beyond. The education style at the University of Sheffield mirrors functioning in the ‘real world.’ In addition to course knowledge, students hone time-management and self-advocacy skills, among others.

As a student in one of the most diverse and multi-cultural landscapes in the UK, you find yourself with an incredible amount of opportunities to explore new and different activities, foods, lifestyles - you name it. From peaceful pastures of the Peak District to a bustling city-center home of eclectic shops and plenty of pubs with locally brewed ale, you can pretty much find something that fits your fancy. It is refreshing too that wherever you are from, you can find a little piece of home tucked away somewhere in the city or surrounds.

After my year at the University of Sheffield, I will undertake the second and final year of my course at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Once I finish my degree, I do not know what will be my next step. I may choose to pursue a PhD or a career within a particular organization. What I do know is that over the course of the year and well into next, opportunities will arise that will undoubtedly lead me in some interesting direction.

The best thing you can do for yourself during your time in Sheffield is explore! Explore not just new places, but explore possibilities of how you can best take advantage of what the University and the city have to offer. Learning happens in many different forms. Find a balance between burying your nose in a book in the library and enjoying an evening out on the town. You may be surprised by what you end up discovering.