Student Name: Alinedoh Carlson (Carl) Mbi Nkwain

Course: MSc Global Health

Hometown/Country: Bamenda, Cameroon

Year of Course: 2019-20

Carl came to QMU from Cameroon to study at the University’s Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD). He is a recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship and plans to eventually study towards a PhD. In addition to his studies, Carl has recently started working as an Employability, Events and Marketing Intern with the University’s Student Services, Careers and Employability Centre. We caught up with him to find out more about his course, his experience of QMU so far and how he’s adapting to the chilly Scottish weather!

About you

Tell us a little about yourself.

When I'm not talking about strengthening health systems in fragile and conflict states, you’ll find me discussing innovative ideas and how they can be translated into businesses and structures to solve some of the problems around us. I also spend my time reading and writing self-improvement articles.

Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?

The programme in Global Health and Development has been designed for population health enhancement in both middle and low-income countries. I felt that the course would prepare me for incorporating health promotion concepts such as community development and empowerment into current health services. I was also looking forward to benefiting from the ReBUILD research consortium, as it focused on health system strengthening in post-conflict states.

The Course

What have you most enjoyed about your course?

The small size of the classes gives room for maximum interaction between teachers and students, as well as between students themselves. The lecturers are more than willing and readily available to help should you face any problem with the course. My highlight so far would be the poster presentation we had for the Health Systems, Services & Communities module. The experience of working in a group with lots of different personalities was also exciting and not only made me a better team player – but also improved my interpersonal skills.

In the build-up to the presentation, the support we received from the course facilitator (Dr Karina Kielmann) and her assistant (Gimenne Zwama) helped us develop our research and critical thinking skills. The poster presentation itself enabled me to build upon my public speaking and communication skills. It was a great experience!

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

Leaving the Yaoundé, where temperatures are regularly higher than 30 degrees Celsius, and coming to Edinburgh where the temperature doesn’t often seem to exceed 14 degrees, was like going from an oven to a deep freezer! The weather was the biggest challenge at the beginning. However, warm clothing and picking up the culture of coffee drinking helped me adapt.

Regarding coursework - at the beginning of the semester, energy levels are at the maximum, but as the weeks go by, they can wear out a bit, and you cannot help but suffer from study fatigue. To avoid putting too much pressure on myself, I had to heed to the age-old adage of taking study-life one day at a time and taking little breaks away from the books when need be.

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Submit your application! If you have any problems, get in touch with the IGHD team – they will have the solutions to all your questions. Furthermore, when you finally get here, the one thing I would tell you to do is to keep an open mind and have fun while you’re at it.

"The small size of the classes gives room for maximum interaction between teachers and students, as well as between students themselves. The lecturers are more than willing and readily available to help should you face any problem with the course."
Nkwain Carlson, MSc Global Health

Enhancing student learning and personal development

Tell us about your Chevening Scholarship

I am a recipient of the Chevening Scholarship, the UK government’s international awards programme aimed at developing global leaders. I am one of the fifteen scholars from Cameroon, and one of 1750 Chevening scholars from around the world who are currently studying in the UK.

What are your plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?

After graduation, I plan to enrol in a PhD programme to become a health systems expert. However, as part of the build-up to the doctorate, I intend to get some relevant work experience and transfer the knowledge and skills gained at QMU to contribute towards solving some of the pressing problems in global health and development. This work experience would be through internships (and volunteering) for organisations like the World Bank, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNICEF. The doctorate programme and relevant work experience should prepare and position me to one day become a leader in the design and implementation of interventions aimed at strengthening health systems, especially in fragile and conflict states.

[Published January 2020]