by Megumi Asaba

With great appreciation to Ito Foundation U.S.A and Friends of UTokyo, I was able to start my doctoral program at School of Tropical Medicine and Public Health at Tulane University (New Orleans, USA). The department of Global Health and Behavioral Sciences, to which I belong, accommodates students from all over the world with quite welcoming at-home spirit. I am blessed with great cohorts (picture), quite international, from Pakistan, Ghana and the U.S., as well as with my advisor. Although our background and areas of interest are different from each other, we are bonded through sisterhood, and I’m grateful for it.

A scene at doctoral potluck lunch, with my cohorts. Myself in the far left.

As for the course work, I focused on re-building my academic skills and foundation for advanced education as I was away from academia for 5 years, working in the public health field. Thanks to Ito Foundation U.S.A and Friends of UTokyo for removing financial burden, I was able to concentrate on learning activities, which resulted in great GPA. I really enjoyed each class with passionate professors with expertise in their respective areas. The classes I took during the semester inspired me with my dissertation research by their relevant and practical-minded learning contents and class activities. Those classes also gave me opportunities to learn public health issues in the U.S. Though I was at first somewhat overwhelmed by unfamiliar class formats, especially discussions, I started to enjoy it since I found discussions to be an opportunity to share my own view, experiences and unique cases from Japan. In this regard, I feel I’m contributing to my department by adding diversity.

Concluding my first report, I enjoy every step of establishing my academic life here in New Orleans with a great support from professors and friends. I’m looking forward to share my progress in the next report.