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Global health program brings the world to undergraduate

Mirna Hodzic
December 01, 2011

Arizona State University undergraduate global health student Mirna Hodzic is a self-proclaimed xenophile with a voracious appetite for knowledge and a fervent will to help others.

Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Hodzic has made the most of her education since her move to Arizona at the age of seven as a war refugee. In addition to all of the stressful factors of attending school for the first time, Hodzic had to deal with the issue of a language barrier. However, this is one of the things that encouraged her to push the limits on academic work and helped lead to many achievements.

In high school, Hodzic was a part of the International Baccalaureate Program. Since then, she has held numerous administrative, volunteer and research positions and received a number of awards and scholarships.

After considering study in the fields of design (architecture or interior), psychology and anthropology, Hodzic was thrilled to find that ASU had added global health to its majors. She quickly declared it and tacked on two minors: sustainability and speech and hearing science.

Always interested in humanitarian work, Hodzic was drawn to the global health program’s interdisciplinary approach, which involves multiple methods to build solutions to some of the world’s critical health problems.

“It is this type of approach that seems to be the most effective, since so many of the troubles in the world cannot be resolved by considering a single factor...everything is interrelated and complex, and therein lies the challenge,” Hodzic said. “Most importantly, global health is a unique field in that it considers culture in implementing interventions.”

Being a xenophile, the appeal of global health for Hodzic is obvious. She loves traveling, experiencing new cultures and their foods and learning new languages. Currently, she is studying Korean and already knows Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian, English, Spanish, French and Chinese. She recently participated in a study abroad trip to China and has visited South Korea and Japan.

Hodzic has had a great experience so far in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has found professors who are dedicated and invest time in their students, as well as numerous opportunities to conduct research with esteemed faculty members. She has served as an assistant, instrument developer, collaborator and evaluator on several research projects, mostly concerning global ethnohydrology (cultural knowledge of water issues). These experiences have fully prepared Hodzic to enter into a Ph.D. program once she obtains her bachelor’s degree.

Graduate school on the West Coast is likely for Hodzic. She is applying this fall to several schools with epidemiology, public health and global health doctoral programs. She plans to use this degree to become a professor, an epidemiologist or a nonprofit worker. “Wherever my future path leads me, I hope that I can play an active role in making a positive change in the world,” Hodzic said.

Victoria Dombrowski,
School of Human Evolution and Social Change