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Spotlight on Kashobi O’Bua '24

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Students speaks at podium
Recent graduate Kashobi O'Bua ’24, Community Health, speaks at Charles R. Drew Pre-Health Society event.

Kashobi O'Bua ’24, Community Health, graduated last month, wrapping up her four busy years at UMD. O’Bua is president of the Charles R. Drew Pre-Medical/Pre-Health Society and a member of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee for the Student Health Center at UMD. Balancing academics and her passion for health equity, O’Bua spent the spring semester working for the SPH Happiness and Wellness Initiative. Dr. Beth Douthirt-Cohen, SPH faculty specialist and DEI Activist-in-Residence, described O’Bua as “a brilliant, intentional, thoughtful, curious, innovative leader around DEI in the public health field, centering health disparities work in all that she does.” 

O’Bua sat down with Ian Schuster ’23, MPH ’24 to reflect on O’Bua’s experience at UMD and discuss her future in public health.

What is one thing you’ve learned in class that you will apply in your career?

My program taught me to be curious and open to different people, groups and information. It also taught me to be empathetic. I’ll never make assumptions about different groups. Everybody has implicit biases, but being aware of your biases and meeting people with an open mind and open heart and ready to help them is essential.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I'm applying for jobs in clinical research and general public health, but I mainly plan to have fun and relax for a little bit after graduation. I want to go hiking – just go out in nature and touch some grass. 

What are your career goals? 

Most of the work that I’ve done in undergrad has been community outreach, and I love working with underserved communities and providing resources and helping people help themselves. 

I also love the idea of clinical research, specifically anything related to medical innovations and making sure that people in underserved communities that have been historically overlooked or taken advantage of are included in future innovations. 

What advice would you give to an underclassman at SPH? 

Be curious. Make friends with everybody, even people outside of SPH. And network, because you never know what opportunities and knowledge you can gain from the people you least expect. Don’t be totally tunnel vision; this is your time to explore and figure out what you really want to do. 

How did you balance full-time school and your work for the DEIAB efforts at SPH?

My favorite method that I’ve been using since freshman year is a Post-It note method. I have red, yellow and green Post-It notes, and red is obviously main priority, and I put down everything that I need to do on my Post-It notes and I slap it down on the side of my laptop so every time I glance at my laptop there’s my to-do list.

What is your biggest takeaway from your time as President of the Charles R. Drew Pre-health Society? 

I’ve been a part of the Charles R. Drew Pre-Health Society for almost four years now and I’ve just really enjoyed it. It’s made me realize that I  enjoy teaching people. I love interacting with my members and figuring out what means the most to them and figuring out what knowledge they need and being able to provide that. 

Taking part in the society has been fulfilling, and it's also made me aware of the gap in education for minority students and of the necessary steps to enter the medical and health field.

How has being an SPH undergrad changed your perspective?

I feel so fulfilled at SPH. Before I came here, I didn’t have any direction. I feel like I’ve been able to implement all the coursework in my personal life, in my leadership roles, and as a member of the student health advisory program. The way I navigate all of these roles has been informed by what I’ve learned as a community health student. 

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