Nicola Nkhoma

Motivation

Nicola Nkhoma
Nicola Nkhoma

My vision is to have more young people from diverse backgrounds getting actively involved in the public health field. One thing that undoubtedly empowers the youth is when their voices are heard. That is exactly how I intend to help the PHASA realize this vision; Creating platforms for the youth to be heard and to get involved. I believe that this is the first step in getting the youth actively involved in the public health field. One way that people get inspired to get involved is through networking. I would also like to increase networking opportunities among the youth so that they learn from and motivate each other and other more seasoned public health professionals.

Biography

I feel a strong compulsion to make a lasting impact in the public health field in Southern Africa. I strongly believe that a position on the executive board of the PHASA is a wonderful opportunity for me to be equipped with the necessary skills, capacity and knowledge in order for me to leave a lasting print in the public health field in South Africa and beyond. Not only would this position equip me with the skills I need but it would also allow for me to transfer the skills that I acquire from this position. By transferring these skills, my fellow peers would be empowered, and we would be able to build capacity for more sustainable interventions and increased health systems strengthening.

In 2014, due to my strong academic achievement and analytical skills that I demonstrated in my Public Health undergraduate degree, I was recognised as a fitting candidate and became a tutor for the health and development unit. This experience equipped me with the ability to transfer knowledge, organise work and mentor other individuals as I worked with my lecturer and other students aspiring for a career in public health. I strongly desire to continue transferring knowledge and skills that I could acquire from having an executive position on the PHASA.

My internship with the public health non-profit organization; Thoughtful Path charity required me to work with a team of community health workers and a community from an informal settlement. The key tasks that we performed included creating research tools for community health research, report analysis, training volunteers for the organization and organizing a health promotion campaign. From working in such adverse conditions in an informal settlement as well as with vulnerable populations, I was shaped into a resilient individual. This is when I first realised that it is because of my passion for public health that I can persevere through difficult conditions with the end goal being having a healthier population.

In 2015-2016, I had the wonderful opportunity of working as a communications and humanitarian response intern for the United Nations Population Fund. I learned the practical aspects of public health in humanitarian response and development. Working with a diverse array of colleagues taught me the value of teamwork. My Public health degree has given me a strong background in advocacy and empowerment for marginalised groups. One way I applied this in my internship with UNFPA was by developing a proposal to address high dropout rates among female high school students due to a lack of access to feminine hygiene products.

I also developed my analytical reasoning through assisting in assessing the effects El NiƱo was having on health in Africa. I am innovative and this is an attribute that a skilled public health professional should have. I worked on a proposal for using satellite technology in tracking mass population movement for consolidation of humanitarian response.

As a testament to my pursuit of knowledge in public health, I was one among five, out of one million students in the entire Laureate network that were selected to represent their universities at the Clinton Global Initiative in California, 2016. Public health is one of the fundamental pillars for this annual conference and it was a fantastic opportunity for me to network and to learn from change makers and seasoned experts in the public health field.
My experiences have taught me a lot about the public health field. However, I want to learn more as well as use the skills that I have acquired to serve other public health professionals and their communities, as well as my own.
I am confident that the communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills together with adaptability in a diverse environment and the proactive work ethic that I have acquired will enable me to excel should I be granted this amazing opportunity.

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