Master of Science in Global Health Policy and Management

Chibo Shinagawa, MS GHPM'19 (U.S.)

Chibo Shinagawa
Chibo Shinagawa, MS GHPM'19 (U.S.)

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Just one month prior to moving to Waltham and enrolling in her first classes at the Heller School, Chibo Shinagawa wrapped up a two-year post as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the small east African country of Rwanda. While there, she worked on the First 1,000 Days initiative, a maternal and child health program focused on reducing the incidence of stunting and malnutrition in children. Today, she’s a student in Heller’s MS program in Global Health Policy and Management, with a concentration in Health Systems.

Shinagawa found the school through the Peace Corps program website. “I was looking specifically for programs that focus on advancing social justice as part of their curriculum,” she says. “I’ve always been a community organizer at heart. That’s my passion, and I’ve always known my interest was in reproductive health and reproductive justice, which is part of the reason why I decided to join the Peace Corps.” She says her Peace Corps experience also helped expose her to the role of direct service organizations, as part of her role included facilitating vaccinations and immunizations at a local health clinic. 

Although she admits she’s still adjusting to her recent move back to the states, Shinagawa says that since orientation began, “I’m all smiles. I’m really happy to be here at Heller, because I’ve seen the school’s commitment to social justice and also how diverse the classroom is. It’s the first time for me that I’m in a place where I see so many other Asian-American women too, so I feel like it’s a great place for my learning, and I also feel more at home. Plus I’ve already met so many East Africans and health care professionals, and I’ve been able to find a community in Waltham.”

After Heller, Shinagawa plans to pursue a career path that will bring her back to Rwanda. She hopes to continue advocating for maternal and child health by working in a nonprofit policy or advocacy organization. She’s inspired by what she sees as that country’s strong commitment and significant forward momentum on these issues. 

In addition to considering a return to the Peace Corps, she’s interested in applying to other fellowship programs. In the end, it all comes down to combining what she learns at Heller with what she knows she already loves: “I love community organizing, and I love being able to work with people to focus on a given goal and support them in developing a stronger community.”