Interim report from Johns Hopkins

by Yurie Aiura

My name is Yurie Aiura, a second-year graduate student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, pursuing a master’s degree in public health. Prior to joining this program, I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Law from the University of Tokyo and gained four years of professional experience in both an investment bank and a digital healthcare company before relocating to the United States.

Within the program, I am pursuing a Master’s of Science in Public Health (MSPH) with a concentration in sexual and reproductive health. My primary area of research interest centers around the prevention and intervention of gender-based violence (GBV) in low and middle-income countries. Since this is my first report, I would like to share why I chose this program and the overview of my program.

Motivated by a commitment to gender equity/equality and women’s economic empowerment, I selected public health due to its evidence-centered approach and emphasis on understanding social and health issues through rigorous field research. My overarching goal is to comprehend the multifaceted factors contributing to violence against women and girls in low-resourced areas and translate this understanding into effective programs and policies aimed at protecting and improving the rights and health of vulnerable populations.

The first year of the program was characterized by its intensity, driven by the quarter-term structure of my school. With terms lasting only eight weeks, the demanding schedule included assignments and exams almost every other week for an average of four or five courses for each term. Required courses covered fundamental elements of public health, such as biostatistics and epidemiology, as well as department-specific courses in population health, maternal and child health legislation, women’s health policy, and program planning and evaluations, and gender analysis.

Moving into my second year, the curriculum mandates a 680-hour field placement (practicum) in the first half and the completion of a master’s thesis in the remaining academic year. The field placement aims to bridge formal classroom teaching with practical experience and can be undertaken domestically and/or internationally. I have chosen two field placements: an internship at an international NGO focusing on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and a research assistantship within my department, where I am involved in quantitative and qualitative analysis of a survey examining the impact of GBV on the youth population in Kenya. Beyond the field placement, I plan to continue focusing on intimate partner violence and economic constraints experienced by women for my thesis and complete my remaining required courses.

I extend my gratitude for the opportunity to study a field I am passionate about, acknowledging the support of my family and friends in pursuing this path. I am also thankful for the inspiring cohort, dedicated to making positive changes in the world. Most importantly, I would like to express my gratitude to the Ito Foundation U.S.A. and Friends of UTokyo, Inc. for their unwavering support in completing my program. Not only the financial support, I look forward to connecting with talented students and alumni in this network, spanning various fields globally. My hope is that my story and this report could be helpful for prospective students embarking on new challenges or considering a change in specialization.