FROM CLASSROOM TO CAMEROON: Alum puts BSPH to work in Peace Corps

Sesen Paulos, BSPH '15, puts public health skills to use in Cameroon with the Peace Corps. 

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January 15, 2018
Women from Paulos' care group
Women from Paulos’ care group cultivate a field of soy to later teach their community about soy’s nutritional benefits.

Sesen Paulos was yet another undecided student at Ohio State.

It was 2011 and Paulos wasn’t certain which major would merge her interests in social and natural sciences. That was until the College of Public Health introduced its Bachelor of Science in Public Health program.

Once she enrolled, Paulos never looked back. She engaged in several extra-curricular activities, learned French and studied abroad in India to prepare for her one major goal: joining the Peace Corps.

Paulos achieved her goal in 2015 when she was accepted into the Peace Corps during her final semester at Ohio State. She was dispatched to Mbang Mboum, a small village in Cameroon’s Adamawa region, just a few months after graduation.

“Cameroon basically chose me,” Paulos says. “I had always wanted to experience living and working abroad, and wanted to get some field experience before heading back into the classroom to get my master’s.”

“I adamantly believe that I gained so much more from my community than I could have ever given them.”­­­­­ — Sesen Paulos, BSPH ’15

As a maternal and child health extension agent, Paulos led a women’s care group to promote safe maternal health practices and encourage healthy nutrition in the participants’ neighborhoods. She also focused on HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention.

“Being of Eritrean decent, I knew I wanted to serve somewhere in Africa,” Paulos says. “I also wanted to learn French and serve in the maternal and child health field, narrowing down the list of available countries to only a few.”

Paulos put her multilingual skills to further use as she engaged with the community in local languages – in addition to French – to better connect with the diverse community she became a part of.

High school scholarship winners prepare for a family planning, girls’ education and HIV/AIDs presentation for Youth Day with Paulos (bottom right).

“My biggest gain was the relationship I formed with the family that I shared a compound with for two years, who were patient enough to teach me about their culture and religion, and welcome me into their space as one of their own,” Paulos says. “I adamantly believe that I gained so much more from my community than I could have ever given them.” 

The CPH graduate plans to continue pursuing her passion for advancing global health through earning dual master’s degrees in public health and public affairs.

“I hope to one day work in health policy, maybe education and possibly government, which will require the management, data analysis and policy skills attainable through an MPA,” Paulos says, adding that the dual MPH-MPA degree would give her the most bang for her buck.

“It's not about what I can't get from a lone MPH as much as how I can build upon my knowledge and my skill set to better serve myself and the community.”

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About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond.  The College’s divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy.   It is ranked 19th among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report, and also includes the top 10-ranked MHA degree program.  The College provides leadership and expertise for Ohio and the world through its Center for Health Outcomes, Policy and Evaluation Studies (HOPES), Center for Public Health Practice, and the NCI-funded Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science (CERTS).