Carolina from Leeds is studying an MSc in Digital Health Systems. Find out what led to Carolina joining Strathclyde and why she enjoys studying here.
Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?
It came from me getting a job working for Samsung. I went there to learn about digital technology and new products. Their products are very sleek, luxurious and innovative.
But going there I learned a whole new thing - that they’re putting their technology into health. I was curious about the amalgamation between human-computer interaction and health, so I began looking for a course that would allow me to study these two disciplines formally.
That’s how I found the MSc in Digital Health Systems at Strathclyde, which was a new course that had only been completed by one cohort.
I decided to apply after watching a clip by the course director on YouTube. She described the unique selling points of this master’s degree, from its multifaceted whole systems approach to the interdisciplinary mix of experts. I knew I wanted to apply. By this point, I had been out of education for five years, so I was very happy and surprised that I got offered a place.
How have you found living in Glasgow?
How did you come to study Digital Health Systems?
I’m from Leeds in Yorkshire but I was born in South Sudan and came to the UK with my parents when I was three-years-old.
That’s where I started my education – in a nursery in Leeds.
My first degree was in Liverpool at John Moores University. I went there to study Medical Sciences and I enjoyed it. It was the first time I left home, and I enjoyed the sciences.
It was an area that I’ve always wanted to go into but at the same time I was an artist and I wanted to do something in art and design, so I left that course and went travelling around the world, which was a brilliant experience.
I ended up volunteering at a hospital in South Sudan and it stirred something in me to study Public Health. I came back to England and I applied to do a master’s degree in Health Promotion and Public Health, with an interest in taking that knowledge back to South Sudan, which is what I did. For my dissertation, I had a unique opportunity to go back to South Sudan to work with young people who were now living in a post-conflict state.
South Sudan has been involved in a civil war for over 50 years, by the time I went there it was post-conflict and some young people were vulnerable and confused about their right to health and education.
So, it was interesting going back as a public health professional and a person who comes from South Sudan, exploring the challenge of how we can help these young people to navigate through their lives.
The area of interest was with their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ways in which they could access knowledge and healthcare within the HIV and AIDS crisis that was prevalent at the time.
It was very hard but encouraging that these young people, even throughout the conflict were quite interested in the outside world, which blew me away. We had things in common, even though they had been in war for two years and I had been in England living this somewhat detached life. Following this period of study, I started working for Samsung UK and it was here where I developed an interest in digital health technologies.
How have you found your experience at Strathclyde?
At Strathclyde, the course has been everything I hoped it would be. It’s fast-paced and it’s innovative. At times it’s forced me to delve into my creative energy. You’re going into unknown areas. One of the first things I did on the course was to create a prototype app for people with rheumatoid arthritis in their hands.
It was in this module, Design of Usable Health Systems, that I designed the app and the process was so intriguing to me that I did it repeatedly. I used the design experience in my master’s project, where I created an app for managing desk-based sedentary behaviour for staff and students at the University of Strathclyde. So hopefully that concept will be useful and can be picked up.
Where would you like to take what you’ve learned at Strathclyde?
In my heart of hearts, I’ve always wanted to go back to South Sudan and do something with the people there but unfortunately, the conflict will always stop it from happening.
We need to find a way to take digital health technologies to vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. It’s very inspirational. In South Sudan for example, the people do not have access to this technology, but they work so well with what they’ve got. And that forces you think of innovative ways in which digital health can be implemented in developing countries like South Sudan.
I have embraced my time at Strathclyde and hope to apply my experience in leading digital health projects in the UK and internationally.