I AM FPHLP 2019: Nassim Ashford

Nassim AshfordNassim Ashford was part of the 2019 FPHLP cohort. He is a senior at Mercer University, majoring in Global Health & Global Develpment with a minor in Anthropology. During his summer with FPHLP, Nassim interned at the Washtenaw County Health Department with the Emergency Preparedness Division. 

In Nassim's coursework, he studied theories and principles of public health; however, he never truly understood where his interest aligned with a practical career choice. Nassim wanted to participate in FPHLP to gain hands on experience in public health, as well as network with professionals in the field. 

At Nassim's field placement, he shadowed epidemiologists and emergency preparedness coordinators to see what takes place during the planning and implementation of aid in emergency situations. He gained experience by researching the role health equity plays in disaster responses. Nassim's report used the information from his research to analyze current approaches to incorporating social determinants in emergency preparation in order to improve response systems and protect residents of Washtenaw County in crisis.

The highlight of Nassim's FPHLP experience was interacting and building relationships with his cohort. Because everyone came from diverse backgrounds, he was able to learn about many different cultures and the issues that they faced. One of his favorite memories with members of his cohort was traveling to Toronto. While they were in Canada, they were able to sightsee and compare life there to life in the US. Though their stay was short, their bond grew closer as they learned to depend on each other in a foreign place.

The greatest challenge that Nassim faced as a participant was learning to apply everything that he's learned in school to a professional environment. Working at his field placement taught Nassim how to manage assignments independently, which allowed him to become more confident with his professional work and enabled Nassim to articulate his findings in a unique way.

After leaving FPHLP, Nassim returned to Mercer University to complete his undergraduate degree. Since he will be completing his courses a semester early, Nassim plans to apply to fellowships and other job opportunities to gain more research experience. Nassim plans to continue his education by pursuing his Master of Public Health, focusing on health behavior and education and/or epidemiology. Nassim also aspires to pursue a PhD in the future. Upon completion of his degrees, Nassim hopes to work in developing nations to improve healthcare practices during emergencies and promote overall equity for those in need. He also wants to conduct his own research focused on minority health and social determinates of health. 

The best advice that Nassim could give to someone who is considering applying to FPHLP is be yourself and open yourself to new experiences. During the application, try to be as authentic as possible while expressing your passion for personal and professional development.