EP63 Maximizing your GPH Experience: A Student Panel featuring Dennis Hilgendorf, Francesca Minardi and Niveditha Narasimhan

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I AM GPH EP63 Maximizing your GPH Experience: A Student Panel featuring Dennis Hilgendorf, Francesca Minardi and Niveditha Narasimhan

EP63 Maximizing your GPH Experience: A Student Panel featuring Dennis Hilgendorf, Francesca Minardi and Niveditha Narasimhan

Alexandra Arriaga: Hello everyone, and welcome back to I AM GPH. My name is Alexandra Arriaga, and today we have a very fun episode, in which we talk to three current students, Francesca Minardi, who is a second year student in Community Health Science and Practice. We also talked to Dennis Hilgendorf, who is a second year in the Epidemiology Concentration, and Niveditha Narasimhan, or Nivy as her friends call her, who is a second year MPH in the Global Health Concentration. Join us as we discuss student life, getting started as a new student, academic and professional development, best spots to eat near campus and the future of Public Health. Hello everyone, today we are here with a student panel for a very special podcast interview, and I'm going to let them introduce themselves.

Francesca Minardi: Hi, Good morning, I'm Francesca, I'm in community and I come from Italy. I'm an international student coming from Bologna, which is actually like a town in Italy, before being the place where the meat-base sauce originated and actually living in Crown Heights.

Alexandra Arriaga: Have you ever tried Bologna sauce? That is good here.

Francesca Minardi: I am a vegetarian.

Alexandra Arriaga: So no?

Francesca Minardi: So it's difficult to find a good vegetarian option, but definitely there must be like plenty of places.

Alexandra Arriaga: I bet. I mean if, if there's a city where you can find it, it's probably here.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Hello everyone. My name's Dennis. I'm a second year EPI student, and I also went to NYU for undergraduate, so I have been in New York for a while. So hopefully I can provide some recommendations of places to go.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, so a veteran.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Hi everyone. My name is Niveditha, You can actually call me Nivy for short. It's a lot easier. I'm starting my second year of my MPH in the Global Health Concentration. I was born in India, but I'm from Singapore. It's all a little bit confusing. So I identify as a third culture kid, I'm sure a lot of you do as well. And I live here in Manhattan.

Alexandra Arriaga: Very nice. So let's get to know you guys a little bit better. What are your favorite books, movies, or TV shows?

Francesca Minardi: Okay, so my favorite book is actually by Arundhati Roy, which is an Indian author. And I like fell in love with The God of Small Things, and I recently read a new one of her, which I really like, which was, The Minister of Utmost Happiness. I would really recommend that Arundhati Roy for whoever is interested in understanding India better.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Favorite book. Probably Guns, Germs and Steel. It's public health related, but I mainly read non-fiction books, so those are my favorite ones.

Alexandra Arriaga: Nice. Very cool.

Niveditha Narasimhan: I haven't read in a while unfortunately, but that's something I'm trying to get back to. My favorite movies used to be, two from India, one is called Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and another one in Tamil called, Kannathil Muthamittal.

Alexandra Arriaga: And what does that mean?

Niveditha Narasimhan: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, means it's super popular. It means some things happen.

Alexandra Arriaga: Okay.

Niveditha Narasimhan: It's a rom-com and the other movie means a kiss on the cheek.

Alexandra Arriaga: Nice. Yeah, that's very cool. Okay, so now getting into the student life portion, which I bet is what most people want to hear about. What is your favorite study spot on campus and what do you like most about it?

Francesca Minardi: Okay. My favorite spot on campus is definitely Broadway 726 on the seventh floor, where the Student Affairs Office is placed and like I really love going there. Honestly, it's not where I get the most work done.

Alexandra Arriaga: I was about to say...

Francesca Minardi: I mean, it's not really a good spot for studying per se. But it's just like the place where I'm really reminded why I came here, why I'm studying public health, why I am passionate about public health. Because it's the place where all the people go and actually start talking to each other and start sharing ideas. It’s where you build up the sense of community, which I think is the most valuable asset. And as a student I get being part of NYU.

Alexandra Arriaga: I agree. For a fact, I love Francesca, and every time that I talked to her is at 726. Like every time we see each other we just talk for like 20 minutes about whatever and it's always there.

Dennis Hilgendorf: I think in terms of like study spots... I mean, a lot of people wouldn't probably get the sense here. But I just still love going to Bobst, specifically like the eighth floor North, just because it's kinda like a quiet spot. It overlooks the park and so it's just a nice view and I guess I always feel safe, there's always resources there. And you can do like whatever you want to do in the library. And it reminds me why I'm studying public health. But at 726, I think it is also hard to beat, it's just a nice community atmosphere.

Alexandra Arriaga: That's true. Our library is so majestic, like that's the only way I can describe it. So you go in and it's like, "Wow." So I definitely recommend people check out the library. I feel like most people think that you have to go to a library to like rent a book, and it's like, "No, just go there to hang out." It's such a beautiful place. It really is.

Francesca Minardi: And they also have like these very nice service, which allows you to reserve some room for let's say one hour, two hour, three hours for actually for groups, which is I think amazing. And it's where you can work the best as a group like group assignments. It's just quiet. You don't make any noise because... I mean, they are built in a way that noise doesn't go out of the room.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Yeah.

Alexandra Arriaga: Right. It's very cool. Book in advance. Yes. Book in advance. Especially near finals. I would say just you need to book like right now during this summer. But it's great and it's cool that you mentioned it, Because they also have, for example, if you need help with the bibliography portion of any paper that you're writing, they also help you with that, or if you're trying to find an article and you're having a hard time, they're always there for you. So yes. Library's a great place.

Francesca Minardi: Yeah, actually with both of them. I mean, one, there are so many spots that you could explore that I haven't yet explored myself. For me, I have top three spots that I tend to go to, but it depends on how much work I have to get done and on my mood. I go to 726 Broadway because every time I go there, I leave with a smile on my face and I've always learned something new. And I've had some enriching conversation with a friend or a new student who I haven't met yet. I go to the 10th floor of the Bobst library. I like going there because, I have actually met a lot of friends there outside of the MPH program and other schools who are engineers, in social work, in nursing, in the conversations. It would be a part of are so wonderful and people are just so willing to have discussions about issues that they're working on or that I'm working on, and it's great. I mean, I'm also able to get a lot of work done there and it's open until 1:00 AM

Alexandra Arriaga: Nice.

Niveditha Narasimhan: And, also by the library, I've actually taken a few courses on Stata or SPSS. I have taken a course on using ArcGIS and... I mean, one, they're free.

Alexandra Arriaga: For those that don't know what's ArcGIS...

Niveditha Narasimhan: ArcGIS S is geographic mapping software that's very well used in public health, in health medicine and the sciences. Yeah. I also do go to the seventh and eighth floor of Kimmel, which is the Center for University Life. And I go there because of the views. I mean, the views that they have of Washington Square Park are beautiful. And in all seasons.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yes, I agree. I like Kimmel too. The thing is that I think this is a question that we might have had to ask ourselves for every season, because I feel like my favorite thing to do maybe during the spring when the weather is really nice, is you just... If you have to read articles or something that's a little bit lighter, not like hardcore studying, you can just take your papers. So you have to read, you go to Washington Square Park, you find like a nice bench or anything near the fountain and it is so relaxing. You feel like you're outside and you're enjoying your life, but you get some work done. So I personally love that. Okay. This one is really important and I'm actually really curious, what's your absolute favorite food near campus or if you have more than one you can tell me. And are there any hidden gems? Wait, Francesca just open the list. I love this.

Francesca Minardi: No, actually, so there's this one spot that I really love, and it's a place where I have been inviting people, especially after class on Fridays. It's called... I'm not sure it's the correct way to pronounce that. But I believe it's called Meskerem. It's an Ethiopian restaurant in MacDougal Street. I see some people nodding. Okay. It's popular. It's very good. And you have excellent vegetarian options, which I value a lot. But it's also good because you can have even other kinds of dishes. Exactly. So you don't really have to impose your choice on anyone. And it's particularly nice because as like in the Ethiopian food, you actually like you may choose or you might opt for sharing what is called Injera. Okay. I'm doing maybe bad. I apologize if it's not the correct pronunciation. But it's like a bread, like spongy bread. And food is placed directly on that bread and people can eat using their hands. So it's an excellent in a way to break some ice with people and sharing food in a way that is fun as well.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And so what's your go to dish there? What should we all order?

Francesca Minardi: So I normally go for the vegetarian combo because I'm not able to choose. They have so many options and there is this nice combo which makes everything, so you have like actually like a little bit of all the options that they have there. But there is some dish that I think it's called Alicha and it's cabbage and carrots in a Tumeric paste and it's delicious.

Alexandra Arriaga: We're going to leave hungry from this.

Dennis Hilgendorf: That is a really good place. I’ve been there before. Okay, I have two and one of them is like... I mean, I don't know what we're defining as campus because I feel like they're both multiple different spots. My first one is Think Coffee. Think Coffee to me is like the all-encompassing place. So first of all, all of their coffee and food is very sustainable. They have really good coffee options. They have food too, which other coffee shops have. But I feel like Think has sandwiches, they have avocado toast, they have everything. So it's both a nice food spot, like to grab a coffee with a friend or whatever. But it's also nice to study if you want to eat or if you want to have coffee or if you want have a sweet. So that's my first one.

Alexandra Arriaga: And they have Wi-Fi

Dennis Hilgendorf: And they have Wi-Fi. Yeah.

Alexandra Arriaga: Which not all places do, surprisingly.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Yeah. And it's also really close to campus. So if you just want to go and grab it, like 30 minutes in between classes, you can always just go and sit and then go there.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah.

Dennis Hilgendorf: The second one is called Croque Monsieur, which is a little bit further. It's on 13th and like 5th Avenue, 13th street and 5th Avenue. If you ever have class at 60 5th Avenue, it's really close to there. But it's also a really good spot. They have like Croque Monsieur sandwiches. But they also have like a combo you can do it with like... You have Croque Monsieur and tomato soup or you can have it like with a coffee, or you can have with a croissant...whatever. So they have a lot of combos. And then they also, what I liked the most about it is that they have this part above it, where it's like two floors and the top part it's open. So during when it's like more spring, you open the windows and you can just sit up there.

Alexandra Arriaga: Nice. How have I not been there yet?

Dennis Hilgendorf: It's so good.

Alexandra Arriaga: Oh my God.

Niveditha Narasimhan: I'm going to check it out.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Yeah.

Niveditha Narasimhan: So I feel that there are tons of more options for food and cafes to still explore and that's on my nonacademic list for the next year. But there's this one cafe on Mercer Street called Matto and everything is $2 there and their cakes and desserts and coffees are delicious. And yeah, so I tend to go there for my morning coffee sometimes. There's a Vegan restaurant on West Fourth that I highly recommend. It's a little bit on the pricier end, but it works out well for me because I'm vegetarian. It's called Red Bamboo. And my favorite dish there would be, wings, Buffalo wings and they're vegan.

Alexandra Arriaga: But what are they made of?

Niveditha Narasimhan: I would assume soy.

Alexandra Arriaga: Okay.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Yeah. And they're super yum. I've taken friends who are hardcore non-vegetarians and they love their meat. But they've actually been really, really satisfied and they've gone back there with other friends. What else? There's a little place on MacDougal which is open quite late and since I'm from India, I tend to have a lot of food cravings from India, home food cravings. So I stop by there while I'm at the library late nights for just a light snack.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah.

Niveditha Narasimhan: That's there. There's also this nice Italian place for like a nice night out with friends for maybe a birthday or something right above campus called, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yes.

Niveditha Narasimhan: That place is great.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yes.

Niveditha Narasimhan: The pasta is to die for.

Alexandra Arriaga: Oh my God, I'm so hungry now.

Francesca Minardi: Wait, adding on the vegetarian and vegan options there is also like Peace Food, which is near 14th Street, I believe, that's very yummy. And like I would highly recommend their cashew nut cheesecake, it's just amazing.

Alexandra Arriaga: It sounds delicious.

Niveditha Narasimhan: And going on with less pricey options, there is also like these Italian pizzeria, which is called Keste, which is pretty close to the campus area and they have these amazing offer of $5 pizza, like an entire pizza, an Italian style pizza for $5

Alexandra Arriaga: What's the name again?

Niveditha Narasimhan: Keste which is spelled, K-E-S-T-E. And they have like $5 margarita, because that's kind of the price you would pay in Italy for a margarita. They are from Italy and they wanted to have this policy of like having a real kind of prize for it.

Alexandra Arriaga: Works for us.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Yeah. We take that.

Alexandra Arriaga: Awesome. Yeah, I was surprised that none of you guys... Because the two of you are vegetarian, I was surprised that you didn't mention by CHLOE. Well, I guess that's like the cliche.

Dennis Hilgendorf: I'm also vegetarian. 

Alexandra Arriaga: You are all vegetarian. Oh my God.

Dennis Hilgendorf: So I was going to say by CHLOE too. But I feel it's a little pricier.

Alexandra Arriaga: It is pricier and it's the cliché. I feel like people before they applied to NYU, they already know that by CHLOE is here. I don't know why. I just feel like-

Dennis Hilgendorf: The pizza is awesome.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Yes, it's amazing.

Alexandra Arriaga: Okay. Well, as a non-vegetarian person of the group, I'll do a non-vegetarian suggestion. If you ever take a class near this 60 5th Avenue building, there's this Mexican restaurant called Torteria. Oh, my God. Guys, it's so good. And if you go on Tuesdays, they have this special where I think basically most of the food is half off or they have like really good discounts on that. If you're 21 or older. They also have like really great margaritas.

Alexandra Arriaga: And it's just overall really great. And I would say they have one of the best guacs in New York City. I mean, I'm Latin and I really appreciate this place's guacamole. It’s so good. So yeah, check it out. And then, let's see. So Francesca, as an international student, which resources do you find useful at NYU GPH?

Francesca Minardi: So definitely OGS is a place that you want and need to visit as an international student, is the Office for Global Student Affairs.

Alexandra Arriaga: Office of Global Services.

Francesca Minardi: Services, yeah. Best known as OGS. And you have to go there for any kind of issue related to your immigration status here in the US, and they will probably help you navigate the system, which can sometimes be overwhelming. Everything that is related to like your applied practice, the extension of your visa or even your I-20 updated with a travel signature. And they are actually reminding you to go there. So it's a very good service. And that's a place you will really need to visit. Also I would say the Wasserman Center, which is the center for helping people building up a career, which is, I think-

Alexandra Arriaga: It's like the career services.

Francesca Minardi: ... yeah. Exactly. And as an international student, I find it especially good because you can go with your CV, resume and cover letter and they will basically help you have it written in a way that works for these job market, which it may be different from back home. For example, in Italy, what they highly recommend is putting your picture, like a nice picture on your CV. Because it's going to be like something that catches the eye of the interviewer and this is something that here is considered totally inappropriate. And I was like, "Okay, I will remove that."

Alexandra Arriaga: For me it's the same. Back home we all have pictures in our CVs. And when I got here, they were like, "Yeah, you don't put pictures in your CV." It can open up to all these... How can you say like, not judgment. But bias and this and that. Yeah. So anyway, the more you know.

Francesca Minardi: Yeah. And same with like the date of birth. In Italy again, we put your general information and you include the date of birth, and they were like, "There's no need for that. Why are you putting that there?" I said okay.

Alexandra Arriaga: I don't know.

Francesca Minardi: No, but it's very important because you may not be aware of how people receive your documentation here. It's like it's going to be very disappointing if maybe just your application is just excellent and people maybe don't value your CV because it's not in the appropriate format. So it's a very useful, same as a cover letter. And for those of us who were not born and raised speaking in English, I think it's very important to have somebody double checking your cover letter just to make sure that... For example, I remember once I used a word that was correctly spelled but it sounded strange. And they were like, you can immediately say that like... I don't know. Anyone from the US or from any English speaking country would have used that is out of context and these are small details, but is nice that someone is going to help.

Alexandra Arriaga: That someone can help you?

Francesca Minardi: Yeah.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, absolutely.

Francesca Minardi: And also I would say, I have in mind a couple of resources as well. Cultural groups. I think there are a lot of student aggregations at NYU, which are doing amazing things for keeping culture activities at the high level. For example, the past year I went to Adiwali Festival. And I have a lot of Indian friends here at NYU and I got engaged in these activities. And these kinds of things are helpful. Because like an international student, I have been working honestly abroad and it's a long time that I'm not in Italy. I've been living mostly in Europe and South America. And by myself I realized that sometimes, you tend to behave in two polar ways. Sometimes you want to absolutely avoid people from your background because you feel like, "Oh my God, I'm going abroad." And maybe it's the first time. "I don't want to speak Italian. I don't want to meet Italian." And I completely zoned out. And sometimes you do the opposite, maybe because the environment that you find is not that easy for you and you're like, "Okay, I have to recreate my own community." And none of those makes you take advantage of your experience abroad. I think I learned what is really important is finding that sweet spot in which you can balance, maintaining your community, and...

Alexandra Arriaga: But getting out of the comfort zone.

Francesca Minardi: But getting out of the comfort zone. And not saying like, "I don't want my community again." I think it's wrong, because at some point you may face challenges that are related to your cultural background. And having a meaningful conversation between people who may experience the same, it's helpful. Before you say, "Oh my God, it's about me. People don't like me. I'm not able to make it in these new contexts." Make sure that you have some reliable person that can help you realize which are your own biases, and that's very powerful, I think.

Alexandra Arriaga: That's great advice for sure. And speaking about the academic portion of things, what are your favorite classes and professors, and why?

Francesca Minardi: Okay. I have three in mind very quickly. I would say Dr. Kapadia, epidemiology. I absolutely loved her and her class. I think that's good advice for anyone who comes to public health. Just take that class very seriously, because it's where you're going to learn the very basic concepts. And once you have a clear understanding of the basic concept of epidemiology, everything else is going to be much easier. And Kapadia was very good at... She's so passionate about the subject and she was so good at transmitting that kind of passion. And she did an amazing job. And another professor is Dr. Cheng. I talk with her research methods, and she has been very good at teaching us how to go through the academic literature in a very critical way. And I think it's amazing that someone really helps you become a critical consumer of a paper and it's going to help you as well.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, long term.

Francesca Minardi: Yeah. On the long term. And like it's going to help you having a paper read in a shorter time. And last but not least, I would say Dr. Dickey. I really like being in his class. He teaches different kinds of subjects here at NYU. But I took Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Public Health. And in a nutshell, the main thing that I learned there is like, hey guys, it's not about you, it's about them. I hope you will forgive me for spoiling the content of the class. But this class really helps your understanding that whatever you plan as a public health professional, is going to be with the community you want to serve. And speaking to them, learning how to listen and become a good interpreter of their needs and thoughts. It's critical.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, I agree.

Dennis Hilgendorf: I have two also, because it's really hard for me to pick. One of them is one that we took together actually, was Dr. Andy Goodman. I think he teaches policy and management.

Dennis Hilgendorf: But I had him for both which is a course you'll have to take anyway. But I think it he's also just a very inspiring person. I think he's worked at the Department of Health for 30 years. He's a trained pediatrician. But I really liked the class because I think that as an EPI student you can get very involved in the science. I think of disease transmission or whatever focused on epidemiology you want to do. But I think he was really great at pulling you back into the broader focus of like what system does this exist in, so like the healthcare system in the US, health policy across the world. And then he taught us I think some really great skills about problem solving and teamwork and also a lot of interesting case studies that I won't try not to for spoil everyone. So if you have a chance to take any class with him, I would definitely recommend that. And then the other one is Dr. Melody Goodman. Also the same. She's very inspirational.

Alexandra Arriaga: So take all the Goodmans specifically.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Yeah. Exactly. But her story is also very inspiring. She's just hilarious.I took Introduction to Data Management- Statistical Programming with her, which on top of the class just being very fun, her being a very fun lecturer to have. It's also I think a very useful class. Because at some point you'll have to deal with using data. And you learn like R, SEDA and SASS at an introductory level. And so I think any way that you can be able to demonstrate that in your work and working with data is very beneficial to you. And you can also say on your resume if you want to, that these are things that I know on a very introductory level. So she was very inspiring. I think she started me thinking about like what data and statistics looks like in terms of public health. So definitely any Goodman.

Alexandra Arriaga: Any Goodman.

Dennis Hilgendorf: Any Goodman professor, you should take those.

Alexandra Arriaga: I actually can attest to that. I feel like the class we took with Dr. Andrew Goodman was so good. And it was interesting because I feel like when we're in public health, no one really sits down and tells you, "Okay, this is how you do a budget. This is a project, like actually do a budget."

Dennis Hilgendorf: Yeah.

Alexandra Arriaga: I hope I'm not spoiling anything. But yeah, it's these skills that are so necessary but are very often overlooked. Because everyone expects us to know how to gather the data, how to talk to the communities and everything. But it's like, "Okay. How do you do the budget?" And I felt like that class was extremely useful and I agree. So Dr. Goodman, thank you. How about you?

Niveditha Narasimhan: For me, I have three classes that I enjoyed in particular this past year. So in fall I took Data Driven Decision Making. And I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that that class is required for people in the Global Health concentration. But I personally feel that everybody should have to take that class or at least should have the option to be able to take the class. Because it was a way for all of us and I feel that almost all students in the class would've felt the same way that it allowed us to really understand in context what global public health issues are, what leads to them, what is the enabling environment in which they exist in, and how they are truly assessed, how they're truly addressed. I mean, that class I took with Dr. Knippenberg who is affiliated-

Alexandra Arriaga: I love Dr. Knippenberg.

Niveditha Narasimhan: ... yeah. He's affiliated with the School of Dentistry, I believe. And he was great. He was so enthusiastic about what he would teach us and he wanted us to really, really learn and ask questions. And that class was followed by Dr. Dickey's course, Accelerating Progress towards Health-Related SDGs, and the SDGs are the Sustainable Development Goals. And that class was really excellent too. It was a good combination of lectures as well as interactive discussion and teamwork.

Alexandra Arriaga: So you took it in person?

Niveditha Narasimhan: I took it in person.

Alexandra Arriaga: Okay. I took the online version.

Niveditha Narasimhan: I recommend taking it in person, because the discussions that you'll be a part of will allow you to learn so much and you're actually applying what you've learned in the online modules and the materials to say for example, addressing a health issue in Kenya, and how are you going to allocate your resources, where are you going to allocate your resources, who are you going to involve, what are your next steps? And that's what we would do in class. So I would say take that in person.

Alexandra Arriaga Yeah, I agree actually. I took it online. I mean, the reason why I took that online is because I was busy working and it was my only choice. So even though when you take it online you're invited to go to these discussions, if you want. I feel like it's open for everyone taking the class, but I couldn't because of my schedule. And I do feel like I missed out. Like I wish I would've had that.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Yeah, it's definitely a well designed course. I mean, like I said, there were lectures, there was a ton of online material which we could use years down the line and just refer back to. It's very, very comprehensive, very thorough. It's a lot of material to sift through, but I still do advise going through it and making notes on it and just picking out the stats, the materials, the interventions that are of interest to you. He actually... Both the professors actually invited a few very interesting speakers. For example, they had a speaker in from CHAI, which is the Clinton Health Access Initiative. And she spoke about health financing and that was an area that I had zero knowledge about. And because I didn't have much knowledge about it, I wasn't as inclined to learn, but then she spoke and it really sparked my interest in that area. And I realized how important it is to have an understanding in financing.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah.

Niveditha Narasimhan: And then lastly, my favorite class was Behavioral Communication Strategies in Global Epidemics. I took that with Dr Dickey this past, spring term and spring break. And I totally loved this class. It was exciting and opened my eyes. I had an amazing time. It was intense and rigorous and there was so much to do in a span of one week because the in-person session was held over spring break and this year was actually held in Beirut, Lebanon. But it's a course that is a partnership between, NYU GPH, UNICEF and it was also designed by Dr. Bedford from Anthropologica. And it really allowed us to analyze and understand real life global health and humanitarian crisis that are currently ongoing. And we as a cohort were split up into teams to address each one of the issues that we were exploring with a mentor who was actually working with this issue on the ground. And we had the opportunity to work with experts, with professionals from public health, from anthropology, from WaSH sanitation, from behavioral change, from psychology human centered design. And we had the opportunity to get a taste of the skills required and all of these potential fields of work that we could be in the future. And it was just a very... I don't know how else to describe it. It was just very satisfying, very fulfilling. And I learned so much in such a short span of time. So I highly recommend applying for it.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah. So moral of the story, try to take your classes in-person. I feel like every time I've taken a class online, unless you really don't have time. We have such great faculty that I think it's worth trying to take your classes in-person. But I mean we're all busy so I understand if you have to take it online. And then yeah, I feel like the study abroad programs are usually really, really good. So I also encourage you guys to apply to that. And then in terms of career-related events, have you attended any event that you found really helpful here at NYU?

Francesca Minardi: So I actually attended one, which was a mentoring event, and it was hosted by NYU and led by the Women's Foreign Policy Group, and it was on an evening. I remember it was basically like three, four hours long. And I found it very interesting because it was not properly like a career event per se, but we actually had the opportunity to speak to women at different stages of their careers at round tables. So it was a very informal and quick conversation, relaxed, I would say, conversation with leaders, which were all women. And I believe it's extremely important. Because as a woman myself, I really feel that sometimes we are not confident enough in taking on leadership, and several jobs.

Alexandra Arriaga: But now we are.

Francesca Minardi: And also like there are like structures that really like prevent women from, sometimes to... I mean take advantage of their full potential. So it was very inspiring to meet them.

Alexandra Arriaha: Nice. How about you?

Dennis Hilgendorf: I went to an event that was hosted by the Student Affairs Office...shout out. There also was a lot of great career related events. But the one that I went to was with Will Carling. And so if you have any... I feel like I keep saying this, but we just have a lot of great faculty in our community. But if Will Carling's ever presented anything you should definitely listen to him. But his was about professional networking. And so I think speaking from my own experience, I definitely have anxiety around professional networking, like talking with people, it's awkward, I don't know what to talk about. So it was really helpful. He did this really cool presentation on what you should do in a professional networking setting, broke it down very scientifically or into steps. And so I like took some notes on it. But it was really helpful because it gave me some concrete things to do when you're in a professional networking setting. I feel a lot of people just say, "Just like be yourself. You're fine"

Alexandra Arriaga: It's like, no, don't be yourself. No, I'm just kidding.

Dennis Hilgendorf: It's true. But how do I... I guess, obviously. But how do that? And so he really broke down a lot of ways to do that. So any event that he host is awesome. But also a lot of the Student Affairs career events are really helpful.

Alexandra Arriaga: Do you remember any of those networking techniques?

Dennis Hilgendorf: Yeah. So some of them were... So one of the ones I remember the most was I always feel like it's awkward, like what do you talk about with people? Especially if you're a Master’s student and you're talking to people who are leaders in their field or whatever. And he gave us like a bunch of bullet points of things to talk about. So like, you can always talk about... Talking about like topics that are very inclusive. So he was saying talk about local geography, weather, a lot of topics you can easily talk about with anyone that aren't like exclusive. So one that he said maybe don't talk about is sports. Because some people based on where you come from will be more familiar with some sports and not others.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah.

Dennis Hilgendorf: And then the other thing he really pointed out was, if you're in a group of people... You will always be recognized for going... If someone's alone and on their phone and you'd go over and like reach out to them, and start talking to them and they're also alone, it will definitely make an impression on them. And so I think one of the things he was saying was, be as inclusive as possible in a professional networking setting. So try and be as accommodating to other people. Because I think it's their assumption is that, at least I feel like when I go into a setting like that, it's more about... I feel like I'm very anxious and don't want to talk to people. But the other thing is like everyone else probably is too. And so the more accommodating you can be to everyone else, the more like easier it is for you to foster in a network of connections stuff. So those are some things you talked about, but yeah, without spoiling his presentation.

Alexandra Arriaga: No, I agree. How about you Nivy?

Niveditha Narasimhan: I definitely love that event too. One thing that I'd like to note is that during the orientation week, at least for me, for us, there were a series of events, related to public health, related to citations, related to presentation giving. And also I think one by Will Carlin. He was also there.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah, I remember that actually.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Remember? In the auditorium. And those talks were great. It seemed a little daunting that there's so much ahead that we have to work on. But it was definitely good to just dive head first into this, at least before the term began. The talk on presentation skills was useful for me, I'd say to an extent. Because giving presentations, public speaking is a huge issue for me as I'm sure it is for a lot of other people. I mean, I get really nervous and like a few points that he mentioned about what people, the gestures and the mannerisms that people tend to give off while they're on stage or on a podium, you really need to be mindful of. And as I was listening to him speak, I realized that a lot of the things that he was pointing out that are actually don'ts are what I do when I'm speaking in public. So it's good to actually be cognizant of the vibes you're giving off, the impression you're making as you're speaking. And make eye contact, don't look at your notes too much. Make sure that you're using your hands to an extent to convey your message. Make sure you move around the stage a little bit. I tend to fidget a lot. I need to do something with my hands. So yeah, it's just a lot of things to be mindful of. And I attended a few events by the Center for Global Affairs, which is located down by the World Trade Center. And they had this international career series, so jobs with NGOs and Civil Society Organizations, what it's like to work for the UN or multilateral agencies. So I attended those talks and seminars and almost all of them involved a panel discussion. So it was also a great way to network. A lot of GPA just clubs and associations, they also do host events where they invite experts in the field or people who have just graduated and found jobs that we are vying for. An example of that is the Health and Human Rights Associations event, Women in Public Health. And that was super enriching. It was wonderful to hear very different perspectives of women who are in totally different sectors of Global Public Health, because it's a huge, huge field. And I mean they were of different races, backgrounds and nationalities from different levels within the organizations that they work for. But just all the events that you attend, whether they're part of GPH, whether they're part of another school, whether they're from outside, are just excellent ways to expose yourself to what is really out there for you and to network because that's what we're here for. We're here to learn. We're here to meet people. We're here to gather exposure as much as we can

Alexandra Arriaga: For all of our incoming students. What is one non-obvious thing that you would suggest to a new student to do within the first 30 days of starting the semester that will actually help them succeed?

Dennis Hilgendorf: I would say, I think because NYU and this is also coming from my experience, as being an undergrad too. I think one of the things you should definitely do is because when NYU’s so large, like one of the largest research institutions in the US, I think you should... A, obviously do all necessary coursework to prepare, look at your syllabus or syllabi, et cetera. But I think you should also look around at other resources that NYU has, maybe other courses, other departments, just because public health is so broad that you can specialize in different things and you can also combine areas. So for example, when I first started, I looked into... I was taking an EPI class, the one with Professor Kapadia. And so I was thinking about what are some other ways that EPI is applied. So I looked as the NYU sociology department, anthropology department. Just like other research opportunities or other professors who would maybe not be necessarily EPI. Not EPI, but who definitely use EPI skills in their work, that's something that I would be interested in.

Alexandra Arriaga: Nice. That's great advice.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Well, something that I did was that, I try to make friends and connect with as many people as possible. And it may seem daunting because you already have so many other things going on that you need to catch up with and involve yourself in. But I think just getting your foot in with the clubs and associations, getting to know faculty, just connecting with so many other people in your year will definitely benefit you. And something that I did as well was to make friends with people in the year above me. And that has really paid off because I've made some wonderful friends and also they've been so helpful in providing insight and advice and being there for me to reach out to about courses, about stress, about the program, living in New York and the future. And yeah, I mean, we're all here as a community and we have to be there for one another and we're all going through the same process in some way or the other. Yeah. So they're the people that you should be able to reach out to.

Alexandra Arriaga: I agree. I fully agree. How about you Francesca?

Francesca Minardi: So maybe like something that is not an obvious thing to do. So I actually took advantage of all the sessions, like introductory sections that are there in every class, to take notes about who was in the class with me. So basically I took notes of names and what they were interested in. Because most of the people come to NYU with a general sense of like, what's the topic they're like interested. And that could be like women’s health or it could be mental health. It could be like disaster preparedness and response. And I took notes and I had this nice map. Because later on I think it’s very critical to be aware of like who are the people around you and what they are passionate about, what they are experts at. And that actually even helped me building a small community of people who are interested in sexual and reproductive health, as I am. So good advice I think.

Alexandra Arriaga: And then speaking of the future of public health, if I were to write to you right now a check for $100 billion, because I'm very generous, what public health crisis or inequality would you spend the money on and why?

Dennis Hilgendorf: That's a really hard question. I think there are a lot of problems... I mean obviously there's a lot of crises. I think I would probably use the majority of that money, and I am biased because I do work with refugees. So I'd use a lot of it for promoting refugee health, making sure that we abide by like the UN human rights regulation on refugee, what it means to be a refugee. So I would spend a lot of that money on kind of NGOs or non-profits or governments that allow for refugees to be taken in and cared for. And then I would also devote a lot of it to climate change because I think that's the most pressing issue overall, especially for public health, and going forward. So in a very short answer, that's what I would use it for.

Alexandra Arriaga: Love that, love that answer.

Francesca Minardi: So I wouldn't have no doubt. I would go for gender based violence. I think it's a huge issue and it's relevant in any corner of this globe, unfortunately. And it causes so much pain and it's so destructive in so many different ways. And I think it's something broader than what is mainly media. Like what media are mainly selling us is not only violence against women. That's a huge part of the story. But it's actually any kind of unnecessary suffering and pain that people feel and experience just because of their own gender or because of their own sexual identity. And I would definitely go for that one.

Alexandra Arriaga: I love that. How about you Nivy?

Niveditha Narasimhan: I would invest this money into all-inclusive education. So inclusive and quality education for all children across the world because I think that education is at the crux of most or even almost all of the issues that we witness and we're trying so hard to address. So I would say access to primary and secondary education, free of cost with meals provided twice a day at school, transportation and other expenses also covered and they should also be able to provide workshops and education on health, on life skills, psychosocial support, mental health services at school. And I think that... I mean to address say gender based violence and women's empowerment and gender equality, I think we need education for boys and girls. All the way until they are able to have a say in society, in politics, they're able to be financially successful and independent. And this will definitely address some of the cycles of poverty that exist in a lot of our countries in the world.

Alexandra Arriaga: Yeah. Perfect. So yeah, I guess that this is also a question that for you, the listener, you should probably think about, because you're going to be starting classes. And this is probably one of the first questions they're going to ask, maybe not offering you a check. But you will get this question a lot. What do you want to do? What's your passion? Why public health? So things that you should probably try to think about and come up with an answer. It doesn't have to be rehearsed or anything, but just have an idea, because people are going to want to know what you're about. So something to think about. Well, thank you so much guys for sharing with us today.

Niveditha Narasimhan: Thank you.

Francesca Minardi: Thank you.

Alexandra Arriaga: And good luck to everyone starting a new semester.