Simpson Tumwikirize MPH

Simpson Tumwikirize ('08) is the Director of Program Management for FHI 360’s Global HIV/AIDS Initiative in Nigeria (GHAIN)

Why UMass Amherst Online MPH PHP?

After obtaining my first degree in social sciences in 1992, I spent most of my initial ten years of work life in different parts of Uganda working with communities ravaged by HIV/AIDS, war and poverty. In 2004 my then employer offered me a job in Washington DC and I became part of a team to lead its international HIV/AIDS response.

The new job and relocation came with both challenges and opportunities. With my social sciences background, I recognized the need to broaden my public health skills and knowledge to effectively perform my new job. Being a graduate of an African University, I felt uncomfortable, given that I was now competing for jobs with graduates from world class universities. I feared that one time, my academic qualifications would be perceived inferior or my competencies doubted. To overcome these fears, I decided to pursue an MPH course from an American university so as to enhance my career in public health, protect my job and keep me competitive in the new country.

How has your UMass Amherst MPH PHP helped you?

When I began my MPH PHP program, I held a position of HIV/AIDS Program Specialist, a job that involved developing, overseeing implementation and monitoring PEPFAR funded HIV/AIDS projects in different countries. During this period, I was one of the most advantaged student workers. Not only did I find the skills and knowledge from the various MPH courses handy in executing my work duties, but also, my field experiences were always captivating and appreciated by both faculties and colleagues during threaded discussions.

Equipped with new public health skills and knowledge, coupled with my passion for serving vulnerable populations, I opted to take up a position in Nairobi, Africa, to once again get me closer to where my skills are needed most. Currently, I am working as a Director of Programs for Family Health International (FHI) on its Global HIV/AIDS Initiative in Nigeria (GHAIN). I have no words to express my gratitude to my former colleagues, the management and staff of UMASS Amherst. Evidently, the MPH degree has turned around my career. I am amazed at how much more I know and how my contribution is changing lives. God bless you guys. I will continue to use the knowledge and skills acquired from UMASS to contribute as much as I can in the war against HIV/AIDS and improving global health.