Zainah Abulhawa (MSGH ‘19) Offers Career Advice to Students

Zainah connects

Posted in News Story

On April 8th, 2020, the Department of International Health launched its Alumni Conversation Series, hosting Zainah Abulhawa, MSGH ‘19, for a discussion with current students over Zoom.  The series is part of the Department’s efforts to connect MSGH students with alumni, gaining insights about field research, the job search, and other advantages of the degree.

Born and raised in Doha, Qatar, Zainah recounted to students that she became interested in the social determinants of health after observing the health disparities — some even existed in her high-income community.  She moved to the United States in 2012 to pursue dual degrees in Public Health and Nutrition Science from East Carolina University. Passionate about addressing healthcare issues that cross national borders, Zainah also earned a minor in International Health from Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen in the Netherlands. 

After earning her undergraduate degree, Zainah joined Georgetown’s Master of Science in Global Health because of the program’s multidisciplinary curriculum and focus on low- and middle-income countries.  As a student, she had the opportunity to work with Dr. Eva Jarawan, Assistant Professor of Global Health, as a Graduate Assistant researching  Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in urban areas. During her time at Georgetown, her favorite classes included Planning, Costing, and Budgeting, as well as Global Health Law. 

Reflecting on the program’s Field Research Module, a degree requirement, Zainah observed that: “your field research should not just be focused on the research center, you learn more when you interact with the community.”  She had the opportunity to conduct research at the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad, India, focusing on maternal health and nutrition in an urban context. Zainah reminded students that the Field Research Module is a great way to market themselves during the job search, as it helps distinguish them from other applicants.

Building on this advice, Zainah provided students with some best practices for the professional transition.  Currently, she is a Research Associate and a government contractor to a Center of Excellence for the Department of Defense at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.  After explaining how she got there — including how to distinguish your MSGH degree from an MPH (“It’s not a public health degree, it’s more development-focused!”) — Zainah offered advice to students on the job search: tailor your resume, include the skills you learned in class, and apply to positions you are qualified for. 

Our sincere thanks to Zainah for participating in the Alumni Conversation Series!