Hello everyone! My name is Rana. I am an international student from Indonesia. I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Gender and Women’s Health unit at the Centre for Health Equity. Prior to my PhD program, I did my Master of Public Health (MPH) at The University of Melbourne in 2018 and graduated 2 years later in 2020. For my capstone, I decided to pursue research with Gender and Women’s Health stream under the supervision of Dr Meghan Bohren. And until now, I feel that doing research capstone with the Gender and Women’s Health unit is the best decision that I have ever taken throughout my MPH.
I really recommend anyone who is interested in women’s health issues to join our stream. Being part of Gender and Women’s Health cohort has really opened my eyes on issues around structural inequalities and racism that people are often receiving based on their identity, gender and sex, especially as a woman. I got to learn not only the topic of my research project, but also other important topics that women faced currently in the world, such as female abortion, gender-based violence and much more. Studying at the unit has provided me with a lens of inclusion and equality that as an individual, I needed to strive for throughout my education and career.
I need to also mention that conducting the research at Gender and Women’s Health has provided me with endless opportunities. I got to be supervised with different experts at the Centre as well as external institutions like the World Health Organization. My supervisors were awesome people and they were always available to consult with regarding my project. During this research capstone, my supervisor had also offered me to work with her as a research assistant, which I am still doing until now (which I feel is the life-changing point of my career and education life!). So I was doing my MPH research capstone as well as working at the same time. And the projects that I was working on were really exciting! This included working together with UNFPA on gender-biased sex selection project, research projects on labour support for refugee and migrant women and also series of reviews that were conducted to inform World Health Organization guidelines development on childbirth related topics.
And really important, the people in the Gender and Women’s health unit are also really nice, genuine, fun and inclusive. We have fortnightly meetings where we discuss most recent research, methodologies and our life updates – and of course with really yummy food around as well!
Upon the completion of my MPH, I got an offer to work with the Burnet Institute team through my supervisor in assisting with their reviews on maternal sepsis. And at the same time, I also received an offer letter from the University to do my PhD. I am really proud and honoured also to tell you that I have received the scholarship from the same unit that I have done my research capstone with: Gender and Women’s Health, Centre for Health Equity. I would not be able to have these great opportunities if I did not decide to do research with the Gender and Women’s Health unit.
One piece of advice that I will give to people doing their MPH is “reaching out”. Do not be shy and reluctant in reaching out (nicely and politely) to people that you are interested in working with during your MPH and build relationships with them. Tell them that you are interested in working with them, that way more opportunities will come to you like you never imagine!
Rana Islamiah Zahroh
13 November 2020