Rifka Verma – Candidate for Vice-President Academic Affairs

Hello Harvard Chan Community! I am pleased to announce my candidacy for the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs.

A little bit about myself first:

My passion to reduce chronic disease burden and achieve health equity within marginalised communities and displaced populations led me to the Harvard School of Public Health. Before this, I did a masters in food anthropology and sustainable food systems, working to understand the traditional eating patterns of different cultures across the world and how these affect the nutritional status of those populations. I am currently an MPH-65 student in the Nutrition department, and am driven by causes of health equity in humanitarian crises, holistic mental and physical development for vulnerable populations and preventive health to combat lifestyle disease burden.

What I bring to the table:

Having led large teams through my work experience, I understand the need for cohesive communication and voicing concerns in order to function as an effective community. I want to create a space for everyone to be able to share their academic and professional goals, with ample opportunities for you to do so. I understand the need for a liaison in order to help students, as often different cultural contexts may guide approaches and perspectives. I take it as my responsibility to translate all of these perspectives into a common language that can become one united voice for our Harvard Chan community.

My goals as Vice President of Academic Affairs:

My vision centers on creating an environment that fosters academic excellence, student engagement, and holistic well-being. To achieve this, I propose the following:

Enhanced Communication Channels: Establish regular open forums and feedback sessions where students can express concerns and provide suggestions directly to the Division of Academic Affairs – ensuring that student voices are heard and valued in decision-making processes.

Academic Support and Resources: Work closely with the academic division to identify and address gaps in academic support services. Enhance existing tutoring programs and mentorship opportunities for better learning outcomes and student success.

Curriculum Innovation: Use student feedback to collaborate with the academic division to update curriculums to reflect latest advancements and challenges in public health.

Professional Development Workshops: Organize workshops and seminars on research methodologies, academic writing, and career planning to equip students with the essential skills and knowledge for their future endeavors in public health.

Community Building and Networking Events: Foster a sense of community among students through academic-focused events, such as research symposiums, panel discussions with industry experts, and networking opportunities with alumni and professionals in the field.

I am committed to promoting transparency, inclusivity, and collaboration within the Division. I will actively seek input from students, faculty, and staff to ensure that our initiatives and activities are aligned with the needs and aspirations of our diverse community. I invite you to join me in shaping the future of academic life at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Together, we can create an enriching and supportive learning environment that empowers students to thrive academically and make meaningful contributions to the field of public health.

Thank you for considering my candidature and I look forward to serving you!