LSHTM Fund: Dr Maria Rauf Jaswal

We are so grateful to the kindness and generosity of our LSHTM Fund donors. Each year, your support funds our LSHTM Fund Scholarship so an exceptional student can study at our School. We caught up with this year’s scholar, Dr Maria Rauf Jaswal, who is studying for her MSc in Public Health for Development.
Dr Maria Rauf Jaswal

Congratulations, Maria. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and have lived here all my life. I have now been a fully qualified medical doctor for eight years. I went on to join The Indus Hospital in Karachi as a Research Associate, with a focus on data analysis and monitoring. For the past three years, I’ve been working as a Programme Manager for the same hospital, leading a TB Prevention Treatment service. We have now implemented the service in both public and private health facilities in Karachi, introducing new preventative medicines at a small scale by focusing on clinical trials in programmatic settings. The service has not yet been implemented in higher TB burden settings or at a larger scale which is something we’d like to develop.

What led you to specialise in this field and to your particular course of study?

During my practice and fieldwork, I began to realise that although I have a thorough understanding of the work involved from my training as a medical doctor, there were some areas where I lacked certain skills, along with gaps in knowledge and practical experience. The reason I applied to schools outside of Pakistan was because I wanted to be exposed to people from across the developed and developing world. An essential reason I applied to LSHTM was for the calibre of professors, teachers and tutors, who bring with them a huge amount of experience from global settings.

How has your experience of studying at LSHTM been so far?

As a student during the COVID-19 crisis, I was unable to move to London and study face to face. Despite this, learning remotely has been excellent. It’s been great that my fellow students have all been really supportive of each other through social media and several WhatsApp and Zoom groups. I’d say the best thing about studying remotely is how supportive and helpful my teachers have been during this difficult time. When I’ve asked for extra time or additional support, I have consistently received what I needed. Before COVID-19, I’d never felt comfortable with video meetings as I worried that it would be challenging for me to stay engaged. Thankfully it’s been good as my teachers have made the lessons as interactive as possible, with breakout groups with other students, teachers and coordinators regularly incorporated into the course. Everyone is trying to give us the best possible experience.

Do you have a message to our alumni community whose donations fully support the LSHTM Fund Scholarship?

I cannot describe the level of gratitude I feel to everyone who donated to fund this scholarship, and to those who selected me, I feel truly honoured. I would never have been able to afford this course on my own, so the only way for me to pursue this kind of study was through a scholarship. Studying for an MSc in Public Health for Development at LSHTM was my top choice, and receiving this scholarship has filled me with confidence and hope. I now feel more able to deliver high-quality work and plan to utilise the knowledge and experience gained at LSHTM to help others in need.

Once again, a big thank you to our alumni community for your kind donations. My scholarship has been made possible by your generosity. It will remove the barriers to education so many face, changing lives and furthering LSHTM’s mission to improve health and health equity worldwide.

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This interview is from the 2021 Alumni News.