Student Profiles

Why Public Health?

 In our series “Why Public Health?” we ask Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students and alumni to talk about what drew them to the field.

Selasi Dankwa

May 2015 – Selasi Dankwa, PhD ’15, took an early interest in infectious diseases like malaria and cholera, a part of everyday life in her home country of Ghana. She came to Harvard Chan School to study the malaria parasite in the lab. Now she envisions taking her skills and knowledge and returning to Ghana to “make a difference.”

Jemila Kester

June 2013 — Jemila Kester, a doctoral student in the Biological Sciences in Public Health program who studies tuberculosis, wanted to combine her passion for science, desire for creativity, and need to help people.

Amy Bei


Amy Bei

Doctoral student, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

“As a little girl, I used to collect microorganisms in the creek behind my house,” Amy Bei recounts. A native of Santa Rosa, California, and the first scientist in her family, Amy began her serious foray into the study of diseases during three summers at the University of California, San Francisco. Her experience there in a “very international” lab working on schistosomaisis and other parasites confirmed her interest in “research on diseases of the developing world, diseases that are often neglected.” As an undergraduate at Harvard, Amy was involved in malaria research at HSPH. Then she won a one-year Fulbright fellowship to work on malaria in Tanzania. Now back at HSPH as a doctoral student, Amy reports that she had three great lab rotations before joining her dissertation lab. (Students in her program can apply to work in any laboratory at Harvard.) She spent the fall of 2007 doing malaria research in Senegal and has learned basic Wolof, the Senegalese language—one of eight she has studied. Amy likes the school’s approach to international collaborations: “I admire the way HSPH feels a responsibility to train and build capacity within developing countries.” When she completes her PhD, Amy intends to go to medical school. She wants to provide immediate care to developing-world populations as well as work toward longer-term research-based solutions