Swezen Kizito’s passion for global health has taken him around the world, inspired by his curiosity about how health outcomes are influenced by the culture and part of the world one grows up in.
An internship with The Carter Center allowed Kizito to put both his Master of Public Health training and experience serving communities abroad to work.
Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy & Management; Graduate Certificate in Global Health
B.S. Health Promotion, Minor in Biology, American University
What is your academic/professional background?
I majored in health promotion and minored in biology as an undergraduate student at American University in Washington, DC. During my second year at American, I began volunteering and interning at Grassroots Health, a community-centered nonprofit that focuses on advancing health equity by delivering health literacy and social empowerment programs in middle schools across DC. For two years, I volunteered and interned at Grassroots Health, training health educators, designing curriculum, and facilitating their programs, while also balancing playing for American’s varsity soccer team throughout college. After graduating, I started graduate school at Georgetown University and soon after transferred to the University of Georgia to pursue a Master in Public Health with a concentration in health policy & management and a Graduate Certificate in Global Health.
Why did you choose to pursue a Master of Public Health degree? Why UGA?
Seeing that I enjoyed my college coursework and internships in public health, I decided to pursue an MPH degree to open up more career opportunities in the field. I chose UGA because of its reputation for having strong academic and research programs and a low student-to-faculty ratio, all at a public university, in-state tuition rate. While at UGA, some of my experiences have been serving as a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate global health classes, a Research Assistant for an international HIV management study, and a COVID-19 Case Investigator for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
What particular area/field of public health are you passionate about?
An area I am passionate about is global health. This passion comes from my curiosity about how health outcomes are influenced by the culture and part of the world one grows up in. It also stems from visiting South Africa and Paraguay for educational and cultural exchange experiences as an intern at Grassroots Health and a volunteer at Courts for Kids while I was an undergraduate student. Also, my interest in global health comes from some of my favorite classes as an undergraduate student being local to global health policy and multicultural health.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College?
Getting to know students, faculty, and staff inside and outside of the College was the highlight. It was difficult starting during the pandemic, but even before I began, students were open to having conversations about their experience here, which was helpful for getting acclimated. Then, throughout my time at the College, I was surrounded by kind, dedicated, and knowledgeable people who were always open to providing a supporting hand.
What did you do for your internship? Why did you pursue this internship? What did you learn?
I was a Programs Development Intern at The Carter Center, where I was responsible for helping generate financial and in-kind resources from foundations, corporations, and governments to support The Carter Center’s health programs. Activities included writing briefing reports to prepare senior leadership for high-level meetings with donors, researching prospective donor institutions, and drafting correspondence on behalf of Carter Center executives.
The Carter Center’s mission and values led me to pursue an internship there. I was inspired by the organization’s work leading health and peace initiatives in more than 80 countries around the world, and I connected with the organization’s values, such as believing that people can improve their own lives given the necessary resources.
Most of my work was figuring out how to translate large amounts of information into concise talking points and recommendations for senior leaders to raise funds for the organization. This experience taught me how to translate the research and writing skills I learned as an MPH student into raising funds, building partnerships, and informing leadership to help support communities across the globe who are disproportionately afflicted by disease.
Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?
Other than volunteering at Grassroots Health, volunteering for Courts for Kids in Tercera Linea, Paraguay as an undergraduate student was an especially meaningful volunteer experience. Courts for Kids is a nonprofit that partners with communities to build sports courts and facilitate cultural exchange globally. The organization works with communities where a safe space for children to play has been identified as needed from within a community and where there is strong community ownership and involvement. The experience enabled me to work hand-in-hand with the host community to build a sports court and build friendships with the locals and fellow volunteers. When we weren’t building the court, we all played sports, cooked, ate, and visited different parts of the town.
What activities/achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?
Two challenging but rewarding opportunities were being a guest lecturer in two undergraduate classes – first in UGA’s Division of Academic Enhancement and second in the College’s Global Health Institute. I put a lot of preparation into each lecture and was able to teach about 40 students between the two classes about civic engagement and social determinants of health, respectively.
How has the pandemic impacted your educational experience at UGA and CPH?
The pandemic shined a light on many other public health and social problems, which made the MPH degree and field of public health feel even more important and relevant.
In my experience, the pandemic had a large effect on the landscape of immediate work that was needed in public health. For example, in response to the pandemic, I worked as a Team Lead at a COVID-19 testing site and as a COVID-19 Case Investigator at the Georgia Department of Public Health.
What insights have you gained as a public health student?
As a student who concentrated in health policy and management, I gained insights into operational and strategic factors, like finance, management, policy, and economics, that go into successfully delivering public health programs.
What are your plans beyond graduation?
I will be working as an Advisory Associate in KPMG’s State and Local Government management consulting practice in Nashville, Tennessee. I hope to learn more about and support health and social services in the government and public sector, in addition to other public and private sector processes and partnerships.
Posted on August 31, 2022.