UCL Population Health Sciences


Student Spotlight: Alysha, Population Health MSc

8 April 2024

We speak to Alysha, a student on the Population Health MSc taught at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care. Hear what Alysha has to say about her course and her journey from Edmond, Oklahoma to London.

Alysha portrait in front of Big Ben

Where do you call home? 

Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Why did you choose to study your programme?

When considering programs in population health, I wanted an experience which would emphasize the "global" aspect of global health, especially in practice. As an undergraduate at Yale, I developed an interest in the multidisciplinary nature of health and medicine, specifically pertaining to culture, religion and gender, and was specifically looking for programs committed to integrating such fields in an interdisciplinary nature. UCL's MSc in Population Health seemed ideal, considering the academic coursework would allow me flexibility in taking a wide array of courses within the span of a year, from classes on health policy to ethnicity, migration and health. I was also attracted to the program's location in the heart of London; with an international student body and faculty, I felt that UCL's program would challenge my previous conceptions of health in the United States, and would also allow me more opportunities to engage with the niche populations I'm interested in studying. I've found from the past few months that this is exceptionally true: since coming to UCL, I've had the ability to work with health projects invested in Muslim women, to learning about pediatric health in South Asian communities from guest lecturers in my classes -- experiences I dreamt of when imagining my future masters program. 

What have you enjoyed most about the programme so far?

My cohort is extremely close-knit, and boasts a very international background. I find that through courses such as "Social Determinants of Global Health" I've had the opportunity to learn about population health through multiple, diverse perspectives. From hearing about my own peers' experiences with public health in their home countries, in countries such as Indonesia to Italy, to even learning about the NHS and the UK as an international student, I've found UCL truly to be "London's Global University" in practice. Beyond health, the international nature of my program has also allowed me to learn about global politics and sociocultural practices. I've also been lucky to share my own experiences with population health advocacy and studies with my peers -- such discourse makes me excited to attend class, as I know I'll be learning much more than just the curriculum planned for the day by our professors and lecturers. 

Are you interested in any specific careers after your studies? If so, what are your future career goals?

After my studies, I hope to pursue a career in medicine and research. I am particularly interested in women's health in Pakistan, and aim to incorporate culturally-competent models of care in my work, employing a preventative approach as a researcher and clinical approach as a physician. I know my background as a population health student will be imperative in allowing me to conquer this goal. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

My top tip for incoming students would be to attend as many events/conferences as possible during their study. The Population Health Sciences program, and larger UCL body, continuously invite speakers to share their real-world experiences, which are phenomenal to attend. There are also many events in London which can help expand upon one's studies, but may also be a fun weekend activity to enjoy. Since moving to London, I've been fortunate to attend an NHS conference on faith and health. On the other hand, I've also been to my first comedy-club event, and have attended socializing events with my cohort members, including as karaoke night. There is truly something for everyone, and you must take advantage of it! 

If you are interested in the Population Health MSc, find out more.