From Oklahoma to Ukraine

Brown’s Online MPH program connects public health practitioners across the globe.

Brown’s Online MPH is a fully remote program designed for students balancing professional aspirations with their educational goals. Students are grouped into cohorts that gather online to review coursework, discuss ideas, and provide support to one another. While their curriculum is similar, their reasons for pursuing an MPH are as varied as their backgrounds. From the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to war-torn Ukraine, the first cohort of Brown’s Online MPH students are finding their way in the field of public health, together.

David Shabtai MD

Physician and Rabbi – Boca Raton, FL

As a physician and rabbi in Florida, Shabtai’s medical skills were needed to help guide his community in managing the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I learned very quickly that there was a whole skill set that I’ve yet to learn that I found fascinating and wanted to explore further,” he said.

The “stellar faculty” initially led him to Brown’s Online MPH program. “I found that they were excellent communicators and always had insightful comments. As I was not planning on moving, an online option was the only program available to me.”

Shabtai plans to put the public health skills he gains from the MPH program into practice, working locally to improve health outcomes in his community.


Mandy Williams RN

Nurse – Cherokee Nation, OK

Williams has found the work-life balance offered by the online MPH program to be a perfect fit for her busy schedule. With support from her classmates, she’s confident in the success she will have in the program and beyond.

“Everyone has been extremely helpful and encouraging. This cohort is great at lifting each other up and affirming everyone’s ability to succeed,” she said.

Mandy plans to use the skills learned with Brown to continue her work in Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation furthering the cause of Indigenous health. “I believe my peers and I will have the qualities to excel and become leaders in public health practice,” she said.


Keisha De Gouveia MD

Physician – South Africa

De Gouveia is interested in broadening the scope of her work in South Africa to a population-wide level. “While the importance of individualized treatment of patients has always been my primary mode of care, the value of affecting large scale change has always interested me,” she explained.

The program’s cohort model drew De Gouveia to Brown’s Online MPH. “The concept of interacting with like-minded individuals from a vast array of backgrounds is what triggered my interest,” she said. De Gouveia underscored the value of the institution, which she described as its own reward: “I see my experience with Brown as a priceless opportunity. Learning from some of the best in the field, I believe that this will positively impact the communities I am working in.”


Bogdan Khobzey MD

Community Physician – Ukraine

Currently there are few more challenging places to be a clinician than in Ukraine, which has suffered both during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the ongoing war with Russia. Yet through financial hardship and Russian shelling, Khobzey has kept his patients and colleagues together.

With the help of his cohort at Brown, he is gaining the experience and knowledge to help many more people who badly need it. “Despite the distance, cultural differences, and economic factors, I see that we all share the desire to improve the public health system. Brown certainly select the best students, and I enjoy learning with and from them,” he said.

Despite his daunting daily reality, Khobzey says he knows he can make a difference: “I am glad I have the opportunity to share new skills with colleagues and discuss debatable issues. I am grateful to the Brown community for creating a platform for learning even in times of war, and for the opportunity to develop despite daily rocket attacks. Thanks to this program, I feel useful in a difficult time for my country and its strengthening in the field of public health.”


Syam Adusumilli

Health Care IT Professional – India

After 30 years in health care technology, Adusumilli decided to transition to a career in public health. The ability to take course online was essential to his decision to join Brown. “The 100% online nature of the program is very appealing, since I spend significant time in India and all over the world,” he said.

Working with his cohort has been a major benefit of the program. “I find the diversity of experience, expertise and perspective very energizing and something I look forward to participating in and contributing to every day. It is fair to say I have learnt at least as much from my classmates as I have from my professors.”

As an autistic adult, Adusumilli is keenly aware of how health care systems support the neurodivergent community, and how they fall short. “I am deeply committed to transforming the intersection of public health, wellness and autism in a community context,” he said. Adusumilli hopes to use his MPH training to improve health equity programs for disadvantaged communities.