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PHD Public and Community Health (PCHL)

Coming from a developing nation, I have seen and experienced blatant healthcare disparities that exist between the rich and the poor.  While many in developed nations complain of insurance companies making healthcare decisions, in Iran, where I was born, healthcare decisions are made based on what patients can afford.  As a boy, I felt a fire inside me, a sense of justice and compassion that wanted to prevent illness, or aid in the recovery of people’s health.  I recall how when the Iranian Islamic Revolution turned our nation upside down, I witnessed the decline of the health policies that for so long supported and protected us: the Global AIDS programs, Medicade, Medicare, and Reproductive Health programs.  In Iran, I stared at a truth few could bear, the physical decline of those who could not afford basic medical care, or preventative medicine.  These realities spurred me to research how health policies in a community are scripted, implemented, regulated and sustained.  In this great age of information, I became aware of how industry and mass media report on inadequate health policies and the inherent risks thereof.

 When I graduated high school, my ambitions, my dreams for a better life, and an ability to freely express my thoughts, ideas, and goals brought me to America.  In America, I have had incredible access to educational institutions, building an academic base of knowledge to aid people in preventing disease, help others to a better quality of life, and heal as many as possible.  I developed my ideas of how to improve welfare systems, and comparative health policy, and a grasp of the magnitude of need versus feasibility: providing affordable healthcare to over 44 million uninsured Americans.  I do not believe that it is a paradox, and I will be on the forefront of producing sustainable policies that address this, probably our greatest national challenge.

 Many educational institutions speak of the need to produce culturally competent alumni.  I bring with me many experiences from around the world.  Indeed, I speak four languages competently, have traveled to forty-eight countries, and have the ability to communicate effectively with people of many differing backgrounds and creeds.  I have a deep respect for other cultures and have developed the ability to adapt quickly to living in different parts of the world.  Moreover, I have seen these amazing places in the context of my academic background, through the eyes of a scholar, remarking on the politics and public health interventions that I have seen.

 My GRE scores do not reflect the seriousness with which I have approach my academia.  I feel that my GPA, Phi Beta Kappa and International Honor Society membership and Scholastic Honors from Southern Illinois University are better representations of my maturity as a scholar, and my ability to perform well in an academic situation.  Nonetheless, I have studied conscientiously for a more representative score, sitting the GRE exam once again. 

 The field of Public Health is without doubt multidisciplinary.  I bring with me multiple degrees from an academic background that reflects many areas that quintessentially correspond to Public Health: pre-medicine, environmental science, health care management, and public administration.  Coupled with this is the fact that I have maintained over a decade of conceptual continuity in my professional, volunteer, and academic careers.  Firstly, I began working in the federal sector as a Quality Control Manager and Project Data Analyst for the FDA, where helping people and health care organizations convinced me of my passion for the field of Public Health.  Secondly, my work in the federal sector with the US Department of Health and Human Services as an Executive Director Assistant to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID).  As a public servant, I served as a liaison between the Department and the White House, producing reports for the President on intellectual disabilities, and was able to provide health information to socio-economically disadvantaged populations.

 My volunteer work has found me spending hours assisting HIV/AIDS and cancer sufferers with their personal affairs, a companion to them during their illnesses.  In recent months, I have volunteered with the Administration for Children and Families, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Program, a program that has shown me how victims become certified in order to receive federally funded benefits and services, so the victims can go on to rebuild their lives safely.  The Administration for Native Americans has exposed me to the agency’s project planning, design and implementation to promote Native Americans’ need for economic and social self-sufficiency.  The Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Disability, the Cleveland Clinic, Deep Brain Stimulations, Office on Disability and Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Neurological Restoration have all shown me how these groups work to improve the quality of life of the people they serve, the level of functioning, as well as occupational therapy.  Moreover, these various agencies work to improve access to care, encourage medical innovation and research as well as remaining vigilant in terms of medical ethics.

 In terms of my planned doctoral research focus, I intend to focus on the area of disease and behavioral research.  My academic background in pre-med, combined with my myriad volunteer hours in a number of agencies, including Washington Hospital Center with HIV positive patients where I provided educational programming on the disease, have all worked to create an extensive backdrop upon which to develop my research work.  In fact having experienced numerous agencies, I have been involved in their endeavors to identify a need, design a project, develop and implement the project and then assess its success or assess where there is room for further development.  Specifically, I worked with the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Neurological Restoration and their conference that focused on the impact DBS, or brain pacemakers, have on a patient’s quality of life, level of functioning and ability to return to work.  Additionally, I spent five years with the FDA, performing numerous scientific reviews of research projects, increasing my knowledge of formal, real-world projects and their formal elements.  In terms of my ability to conduct quality and relevant research work in the field of public health informatics, one need look no further than the detail-oriented nature of my FDA work, the reliance on information technology, the requisite involvement with medical, pharmaceutical and scientific research projects’ lexis, as well as ongoing quality control of data is solid evidence of my ability to excel in the field.  My internship with the FDA alone is in direct line with the definition of public health informatics: the collection, storage and analysis of public health data.  For half a decade, I dealt with the collection, storage and analysis of data specifically in the interest of public health.  I enjoyed my work with the FDA immensely, but found that I would quickly exhaust every path to promotion, and challenge without developing myself further academically.

 There has been a broadening of the terms at-risk in contemporary society in terms of public health.  In recent years not only have the increased influx of minorities into the United States caused an increase in the number of sexually-transmitted diseases, since most of the incoming populations are young, adolescents of a number of backgrounds are now more at-risk than ever before.  When there was only less than 10% of Hispanics for instance in America’s middle and high schools, the problem was relatively small.  Now that Hispanics alone account for 20% of middle and high schools enrollment, the problem is no longer a Hispanic issue, but an American issue.  I am particularly interested in how effective behavioral interventions are in terms of reducing HIV, and other STDs, prevalence in teen populations.  At the same time, it would be interesting to see how well these same endeavors would affect teen pregnancy rates.

 In terms of my future, I anticipate being a part of the government office of Senior Executive Services (SES).  Having served as the Executive Director Assistant for the PCPID, I would gain great personal and professional satisfaction by continuing my work with the Department of Health and Human Services, but post-graduation, as an Executive.  The SES is an environment in which I will have the ability to become involved in the decision-making process of public health, and to work alongside different local and international health organizations, enhancing health communications on a global scale, thereby effecting the most change.  For me, there is no greater contribution to the amelioration of human life that I could possible offer, and not greater truth to find.  Furthermore, I would then be able to give back to the community as a professor, offering burgeoning students great insights from my current work, teaching part-time at the university level.

 The University of XXXX is my sole choice for further education.  After speaking with Dr. Katherine Sharp, I understand that the public health program at XXXX places an emphasis on quantitative and analytical skills that I have seen to be critical in analyzing public health issues, and bridges the gap between abstract principles and reality.  A quality education that only XXXX can offer, a Ph.D. course of study in Community Health, focusing on Public Health Informatics and Communication is the key to my future success.  In truth, being accepted to XXXX will be my second dream coming true.   The first, I am proud to say, will be becoming an American citizen this coming March.  Finally, after twelve years of waiting in long lines, the doors of opportunity, academically and professionally are finally opening for me.  The joy I feel is simply overwhelming. 

 I look forward to the opportunity to develop myself as a creative leader for Public and Community Health and the people I will go on to serve.  Your time and consideration is greatly appreciated and I eagerly await a personal interview.

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