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The University of Southampton

Alicyn Grete MSc Public Health, United States

West Point-Southampton Scholarship

Alicyn Grete's Photo

Studying public health in Southampton has allowed me to learn valuable new professional and recreational skills while immersing myself in a different culture as I explore the UK and adjoining parts of the world. I have a better understanding of how to gather and triangulate evidence to make sense of the world around me, specifically in the complexity of the healthcare sector.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Southampton?

I applied to Southampton because my university in the US had a partnership with Southampton and they offered a scholarship for Master’s study. I chose the Public Health program because the course material looked challenging and well-fitted to my future career plans.

What do you enjoy the most about living in Southampton?

It may sound simple, but my favourite part is the bike ride from my apartment to campus every day. I pass through the Common, and in all seasons, it always fills me with peace and joy. I know when I make that ride that I’m headed towards a great conversation about public health, a challenging workout at the gym or in jiu jitsu, or a fun gathering of friends in a society.

Have you undertaken any work placements, collaborations with industry, internships or volunteering? How has this enhanced your experience?

I was able to help coach softball pitching at the Baseball-Softball UK Fastpitch Academy in London, which provided a nice outlet from my studies and allowed me to stay involved in my favorite sport. It made me realize I love coaching, and I want to keep it up even after returning to the US. I was also able to volunteer in a library tutoring program through Southampton Hub, which allowed me to give back to young students and learn more about the UK’s school education system.

Have you undertaken any extracurricular activities? How have they enhanced your experience?

I have loved getting to compete with the Ladies Football, jiu jitsu, and softball & baseball societies. These societies provide a competitive spirit while keeping the activity fun and providing entertaining socials outside of the competition. I have also enjoyed weekend trips with the Caving, Wilderness and Emergency Medicine, and Hillwalking societies that have allowed me to explore beauty in nature while meeting friendly people. These activities have provided me with a supportive community and an outlet from my master’s studies. I’ve been able to sharpen many skills that keep me learning even outside of the classroom.

What are you most proud of from your time at the University of Southampton so far?

I’m most proud of learning how to drive stick shift for the first time on the left side of the road. It may seem silly, but the luxury of the automatic car that is so common in the US is definitely something that I took for granted. For the first couple weeks of driving a manual car, I feared for my life every time I got behind the wheel. Now it’s second nature and I can’t even remember the last time I stalled.

What has been the hardest aspect of studying in another country? How has the University helped you overcome the challenges?

One of the most difficult aspects is trying to understand the entirely different structure of the UK healthcare system, and how those differences shift the underlying perspective from which people view health. It took me a while to understand this different perspective and see how it related to my own. Thankfully, my course is filled with engaging teachers and interactive classmates from a wide variety of backgrounds that have been wonderful for helping fill my gaps in understanding.

How have the people you have met at Southampton changed your life?

I honestly wasn’t expecting to be as warmly welcomed into the community as I was in Southampton. To be able to take part in all the experiences I have so far, and to meet all of the people along the way has been an unforgettable journey. Particularly, I have realized my passion for tackling difficult concepts in the healthcare field and for coaching young players to master the art of softball. The people I’ve met in both of these endeavors have inspired and encouraged me to continue the effort long after my Master’s program will end.

What will you do with your degree after you have finished your studies?

I will return to the US for medical school, after which I will serve as a physician in the US Army. I hope to use the skills I learned in public health to contribute to humanitarian medical efforts both during and after my time in the service.

Can you sum up your University of Southampton experience in three words?

Welcoming, Inspirational, Growth

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I want to reiterate how much I’ve enjoyed talking about complex health topics in a room full of people who share a similar passion. Although the passion is similar, everyone’s background is unique and the range of perspectives I hear from is astounding! I’m thankful for the module instructors and classmates I’ve met this year.

What is the name of the scholarship or bursary you have received?

 West Point-Southampton Scholarship

How has the funding enhanced your experience as a student at the University of Southampton?

I got to engage with a community of international scholars from many different scholarship programs, and I even made some close friends who I hope to stay in touch with in the years to come! I’m thankful for the environment where I can mix with people who have a similar passion for learning and achievement across many disciplines.

What advice do you have for future applicants who may wish to apply for this scholarship or bursary?

I wish I had understood the UK education structure and how the university degrees required to apply for programs compare to college degrees in the US. I had to provide specific proof after applying that I had studied certain concepts before I could be admitted to my program. If I had known the expectation for learning on these concepts, I could have made my educational status clearer on my original application. Essentially, do your homework on the requirements for the course you choose and research the material covered in the modules to ensure that the program really fits what you’ve done and where you want to go. Such research is what helped me choose the public health course, and it has proved fitting to what I’ve done and where I want to go.

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