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Alumni Profile

Samia Omar, M.P.H.
Class of 2008
Community Health concentration 

Please tell us about some of your activities since your graduation from the MPH program?
Since my graduation in 2008, I have worked with the Turkana Basin Institute in Ileret, Kenya to initiate its Community Outreach program, for which I am now the Program Coordinator. The program is focused on promoting education, health, economic development, and conservation. Within my work at TBI, I …:

  • Work to design and raise funds for projects in identified areas of need in cooperation with the local community, NGOs, and governmental partners;
  • Have raised over $100,000 for purchasing a mobile clinic, constructing and equipping local schools, and providing access to water;
  • Manage the annual bursary fund of $16,000 and run the mobile clinic;
  • Collaborate with the SBU Schools of Health Technology and Management, Medicine/GPPH, Dental Medicine, Nursing, and Social Welfare to implement public health activities in Ileret including constructing a maternity ward, hiring and supervising nurses, and planning a dental camp; and
  • Act as a community liaison to foster a positive relationship with the community.

You can learn more about our activities here: www.turkanabasin.org/geoblog/outreach

Until June of this year, I was also Executive Committee Member of Friends of Lake Turkana, Kenya, where I organized and participated in activities to conserve Lake Turkana, its eco-system, and the livelihood of the local communities. My activities included:

  • Formulate a strategy to bring attention to the potential impacts of the Gibe III hydroelectric dam on Lake Turkana; and
  • Raise local and international awareness of issues facing Lake Turkana through education, community mobilization, meetings, media, and other avenues.

How has your MPH degree influenced your career?
My degree was instrumental to my growth at TBI, as some of the first projects I was tasked with implementing in Ileret were initiating public health programs. I credit my MPH Practicum experience with Dr. David Krause in Madagascar, advised by Dr. Karen Goldsteen, as being a significant source of my first ever professional experience in community health. It gave me the push I needed to get into the field. Also, the Community Health degree was rich in providing general knowledge about a variety of public health topics rather than narrowing down to one field, which allowed me to be much more well-rounded.

What advice would you give a new student just starting the program?
One should not underestimate the value of working closely with your advisor through your academic program. That aspect of my academics is what allowed me to tailor my degree through my advisor and make it unique to what I wanted to get out of it, and also maximize my practical experiences.

Posted Spring 2011