How I ended up in Public Health.
Public health was not my first choice for a career; in fact, I was unsure of which route to take. I considered pursuing medicine after graduating from high school. Being a doctor has always been a goal of mine since I was a child. However, my scores were insufficient to gain admission to medical school. Whereas chemistry, physics, and arithmetic were not my strong suits. I also considered nursing and agriculture, but given the development of those fields in Sierra Leone, I believe they are not viable options.
My WASSCE (West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination) results were released, and I earned a passing mark. But I remained unsure about which career route to take. I had to do a lot of research on the internet before deciding on choosing computer science. I enjoyed the idea of Computer Science because I enjoy computers and am always interested in new technology. I told my mother about it, and she said she was alright with it as long as it was what I wanted to do.
A slew of concerns raced through my mind: will I be able to learn to code? Is there going to be a lot of math? What if I don't succeed?
In addition, my research showed me what I could do with a computer science degree. This fueled my motivation and enthusiasm for the course.
I applied to the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) and was accepted. It is a private university that is regarded as one of the best in the nation. I began classes and made many new acquaintances. I found out in the first week that I was classmates with my cousin Bashir, whom I call Bash. Bash and I have become my housemates, and we do everything together.
At the end of the first semester, I told my mother that I wanted to study overseas, where I would have access to a better education and resources. One advantage of having a foreign degree in Sierra Leone is that you will be given preference when applying for jobs.
My mother bought the notion after careful consideration. Another issue is, where will I study? China was a possibility, but my mother was opposed to my going there. India was suggested as a second option because India is renowned for its expertise in computer science technology, and it just so happened that we had a family friend named Balansama Janneh who was studying in India at the time. They talked about the possibility of me attending the same institution as Balansama, the SRM Institute of Science and Technology.
He (Balansama) was pleased with the concept and eager to assist me with the application process. During the application process, I was requested to choose two or more courses. My first choice was computer science, and I couldn't think of another. Then public health came to mind because I have an uncle who is a public health practitioner, and he is like a father and an idol to me.
My application was accepted, but I was not accepted to pursue Computer Science because I did not pass Math. To my surprise, however, I was accepted to pursue public health. Because I didn't know much about public health, I had to do some study, as I always do. I discovered that public health is equally essential as clinical medicine. Finally, I have the chance to work in a marketable health-related field. My family was concerned about how I would manage in India because it was my first time leaving the country. India is far away from home; it has a distinct culture and language. How will I get by? Will I be able to meet new people?
On June 19, 2019, I had to travel to Lungi Airport with my mother and aunts Assanatu and Emmah, who arrived to see me off. I was filled with mixed emotions and unsure what to anticipate or whether I would miss my flight during transit because it was my first time travelling abroad. Above all, I was resolved that whatever I faced during my studies, I would endure and persevere in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health.
I had to check in at the airport and bid my mother and aunties farewell. "I will make you proud," I promised my mother as I embraced her.
After two days of travelling, I arrived at Madras International Airport in India. Balansama, a family acquaintance, was there to greet me. He took me home and served me food that he had already prepared; I ate and rested for a few days. I settled in, became acquainted with the surroundings, and made new acquaintances, the majority of whom were African students studying at SRM University.
I began classes and met my professors and peers; it took some time for me to adjust to the Indian accent, but I eventually got used to it. Today, I am thankful to God, my mother and father, and everyone who assisted me with my studies. Because today, I can boldly say that I am a public health practitioner. I am still awaiting graduation, but it is not a crime to begin calling myself a public health practitioner, is it?