Studying MSc Immunology of Infectious Diseases - Jadyn's story20 April 2022 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine https://lshtm.ac.uk/themes/custom/lshtm/images/lshtm-logo-black.png
Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Boston University in May 2021. While there, I had an internship for the COVID-19 Command Center Food Security Task Force with the Department of Transitional Assistance. My duties included advertising resources in the newly formed isolation/quarantine program in Massachusetts as a form of community outreach. I also encouraged and guided clients who were personally and economically affected by the pandemic through the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) process and applications.
Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM?
Early in high school, I started becoming interested in the immune system and different infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis. Later at university, my degree was packed with courses exploring the vast field of global health. As I was also on the pre-medical track, I still explored my passions in medicine. I knew I wanted to further my education either through a master’s or through work after graduating. So, when someone recommended LSHTM to me, I came across the MSc Immunology of Infectious Diseases. I thought this was a perfect way to gain an excellent education focused on immunology and infectious diseases at a school that centres around public health. On top of that, the summer research project with one of LSHTM’s many esteemed professors, researchers and affiliations would allow me to apply my education and gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting.
How will the programme help your career in the future?
Before coming to LSHTM, I didn’t have much experience or education in immunology or infectious diseases because my degree was focused on global health. LSHTM has given me more confidence to apply to medical school and has provided me with a well-rounded background in preparation for the difficult coursework ahead of me. I was also recently accepted for a project in The Gambia MRC unit working with tuberculosis this summer. LSHTM is providing me a rich opportunity to utilise the skills from these past few months in a research setting. I have been wanting to work on this disease for many years and will be under the expert guidance of a renowned supervisor in the field of TB and in The Gambia unit. I hope that this experience will support me in further research after I graduate and as I apply to medical school.
What have you enjoyed most about your course?
Looking back and seeing how much I learned has been my most enjoyable experience thus far. I love how the modules that I took in the beginning set the foundation for the modules I am taking now.
My favourite modules included the Immunology of Infectious Diseases and Analysis and Design of Research Studies in Term 1, the Advanced Immunology modules in Term 2, and Immunology of Clinical Diseases and Immunology of Parasitic Infection in Term 3.
It’s great to see the progression of my learning from the foundation of immunology in Term 1, applying it to papers and presentations in Term 2, then to case studies and immune mechanisms of specific parasites in Term 3, and ending on vaccines and a research project, tying all of this knowledge together.
By being a student here in London, I have been granted access to expertise from various institutions in the UK, across Europe and even the rest of the world.
What have been the best aspects of studying in the UK?
I would say the accessibility - both in terms of new experiences and academic opportunities. For example, we went to the British Society of Immunology in Edinburgh, and this ended up being one of my favourite experiences as we had to stop by a few other cities on the way up.
The accessibility also applies to the resources we are supplied. I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to learn from guest lecturers, who are professionals in their respective fields, and offer their insights. By being a student here in London, I have been granted access to expertise from various institutions in the UK, across Europe and even the rest of the world.
How did you find the mix of online and in-person teaching?
After completing my undergraduate degree in the height of the pandemic, I was quite familiar with this blend of online and in-person teaching, so it wasn't a big adjustment for me. I really enjoyed the in-person classes because I did miss that interaction with coursemates and it helped to get me motivated. That said, I enjoyed the flexibility that came with having mostly online classes. I also get sick quite often so it was comforting to know that I was able to rely on pre-recorded, Zoom, and recorded lectures from my own home.
What are your plans for after you complete your studies?
After I graduate, I will attend medical school in the US to become an infectious disease physician. I also hope to work with Doctors Without Borders. In the more immediate future, I hope to find some research or clinical work while studying for the medical school entrance exam and gain some more experience. Currently, I am not fixed on any specific place or plan and am keeping my future flexible for any opportunities that come my way.
What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course?
For the first few weeks, say yes to as much as you possibly can. In the beginning, I came to London knowing about three people in the entire country. Early on I didn’t have access to Wi-Fi in my flat, so I heavily relied on nearby cafes and the kindness of my coursemates that had already arrived. If someone wanted to explore Chapel Market on a Sunday, I went. If several people wanted to see the Jar of Moles at the Grant Museum of Zoology, I said sign me up! It was sometimes exhausting to constantly be trying something new with people I barely knew, but by the time I went to bed, I was so appreciative of the friends I was making and the experiences I was having. Now, these people are some of my closest friends.
As for studying this course, consider how it can be an asset to your future, and the skills and knowledge you are looking to gain. I have chosen immunology intensive modules which are the right fit for me but may not have enough global health focus for someone else. I was initially torn between Immunology of Infectious Diseases and Control of Infectious Diseases, however, after I spoke with current student ambassadors and faculty, I was able to rule out other options.
Don’t apply to two courses just to increase your chances of being accepted or apply to a course that may sound like what you want from just the name. It may seem obvious but do your research and apply to what you personally want to study. The programme is rigorous but as I studied, it became even more obvious that it was the right path for me and is even more rewarding than I expected.
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