Paul Ngangula was eight years old when he contracted tuberculosis. A native of Livingstone, Zambia, he didn’t initially receive treatment because of the stigma surrounding the disease in his community. Some believe tuberculosis is a result of bad karma, which causes people to hide their condition.
That childhood experience sparked an interest in global health. After earning an undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical engineering from Weifang University in China, Ngangula has now come to Durham to begin the Master of Science in Global Health program at the Duke Global Health Institute.
“There’s a lack of support for patients when it comes to medical care [in Zambia], and that bothered me, even at a young age,” he says. “I know this master’s program prepares students to solve real-world problems and challenges rather than fixating on traditional courses.”
Ngangula is one of 33 students starting the MS-GH program this fall, the fifteenth cohort since the program began in 2009. Among the most international classes to enter the program, the students come from 11 countries, including Eritrea, Gambia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Myanmar, and speak 13 different languages. Ngangula can speak and understand seven languages including Luvale and Chinese.
The new class joins 26 returning MS-GH students, 73 undergraduate global health majors, 88 global health minors, and more than 100 students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Global Health. This fall, DGHI will also host 14 students from Duke Kunshan University’s Master of Science in Global Health Program, who will spend the semester taking classes and participating in research.
Ashita Nazareth is joining the MS-GH program from Mysore, India, where she earned a doctorate in pharmacy. She aspires to be a healthcare consultant, helping patients across the globe with their pain and treatment.
“This place has a strong reputation in global health and research, so I wanted to come here right away,” she says. “I’m excited to see how people from different countries come together with the simple motive of making the world a healthier and better place.”
This year’s MS-GH cohort also includes one student from the Global Health Pathway for Residents and Fellows program and two students in the Accelerated MS-GH program, which allows Duke undergraduates to complete the global health master’s degree with only one additional year of study beyond their undergraduate degree.
“It’s always inspiring to meet our incoming students and learn about their goals and passions,” says Mary Story, PhD., DGHI’s director of academic programs. “We have been lucky to have many diverse classes in the past, but this one really stands out in terms of the cultures and experiences of these new students. It will be exciting to help them find their path in global health and watch them grow as learners and leaders.