When I heard about Fogarty last year, it was from my primary mentor Dr. Hendry Robert Sawe (emergency physician and head of emergency medicine at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences), who saw my everyday struggle to pursue my research career. When he saw the chance to apply for the GloCal health fellowship, he thought of me and encouraged me to apply despite the situation as I had just finished my master’s degree in Emergency Medicine.
The funny thing is, I had a very short time before the deadline of the application and I was pregnant full term, expected to deliver anytime. Though I could feel the struggle that I will go through, I started the application processes, which included writing my project. When Professor Ellen Weber, my US mentor from UCSF and a very good friend of mine, visited Tanzania at that same time to help me finalize the proposal and application process, I was due and had a caesarean section four days before the application deadline.
Though I had been operated on, I did not stop working on my application. I had my laptop brought to me in my hospital room and continued the work. Actually, when Prof Ellen Weber came to visit me at the hospital the next day to hold my new born baby girl, we had a one-on-one discussion on some of the issues regarding my application that were vital to my project’s success. I did a lot of work/writing and online discussions with my mentors while at the hospital. I could not believe my eyes when I was awarded the fellowship, it was one of my happiest moments, and it gave me so much strength to continue doing what I do.
The point here is, if I had done what most women do in my culture and setting, I would have missed this chance and maybe many more to come. It’s not easy for women to pursue our career goals unless committed and supported by our sisters and brothers who are already succeeding and good role models.
Catherine Reuben Shari, a 2017-18 GloCal Health fellow, is an emergency medicine physician and faculty member at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania. UCGHI’s GloCal Health Fellowship provides aspiring global health researchers with outstanding interdisciplinary education and training in innovative research designed to improve health for populations around the world. Apply now for the 2018-19 GloCal program. Applications are due November 1, 2017.