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Student Spotlight: Flo Awde


Meet Flo Awde

  • Name: Florence (Flo) Awde
  • Degree Program: Master of Science in Public Health, Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health
  • Area of Interest: Child and Adolescent Health
  • Program Entry Year: 2023
  • Hometown: Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada
  • Previous Degree(s) Earned: Bachelor of Arts in History and Psychology, minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies from St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB, Canada (2022). Master of Advanced Studies in Transborder Studies, focus on childhood cancer on the U.S.-Mexico Border from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States (2023).
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  • Fun fact: I first started ice skating when I was only 2 and a half years old. I loved skating, and would skate in circles for hours before school on the outdoor ice rink my dad built in our yard. I fell in love with hockey and later received an athletic scholarship to play college hockey for five years at St. Thomas University and Arizona State University before coming to Hopkins!

What sparked your interest in public health?

My path to public health is non-traditional, but it seems most are. I attended college to both receive a higher education and to play at the pinnacle of women's hockey. As I attended my college courses, I realized I had a passion for the power of academia and knowledge in creating change in situations I recognized as inequitable. Out of undergrad, I originally accepted a position in a Bachelor of Education Program to become a Kindergarten teacher, hoping to help shape children’s path to education. However, I was ecstatic when I was accepted into a Master's degree to play my final year of college hockey and pursue my passion of childhood health inequities on the U.S.-Mexico border, something I had grown passionate about through my interactions with classmates who spoke of their lived experience of health inequities in Mexico and Central America. After completing my final year of hockey and my Masters, I craved more knowledge. I discovered the field of public health when applying to schools for my PhD. I googled programs focusing on “Child Health Interdisciplinary Approaches” and “Health Inequities” and landed on several public health program pages. I had finally found the field where I knew I belonged.

What led you to join the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health? 

One of the main reasons I joined PFRH is the Department's shared passion for improving the conditions families and children live in every day. The faculty's expertise and drive to evoke change in systems that give one child an advantage over another are inspiring, and push me to continue on my own path to being a leader in the field of child health.

What is one experience in PFRH that stands out as a favorite or most memorable? 

One experience that stands out amongst the dozens of memorable moments is my cohort. The support and positivity exuded by my classmates are admirable, and their goals and passion for public health drive me every day to be my best. My classmate Caitlin Rempson, in particular, has inspired me with her passion for community, kindness, empathy for others, and the support she has provided me every step of the way. I am forever grateful for the friends I have made at Hopkins, and I continue to be amazed by the wonderful things students around me do every day. As Dr. Powell once told us, echoing the former PFRH Department Chair, “The students here want to change the world.”

Outside of public health, what are some of your hobbies, interests, and personal passions?

Outside of public health, I am very passionate about sports and physical activity. In my first year not playing college hockey, I experimented with new sports offered in Baltimore with my classmates and picked up beach volleyball, soccer, and Zumba! I also enjoy visiting new places in the U.S., painting, reading outdoors, and finding new coffee shops with my classmates.

What are some of your favorite places or aspects of living in Baltimore?

Baltimore is a community in every sense of the word. It is warm, tight-knit, welcoming, and truly makes you feel at home. As an international student with no family in the country, it can be nerve-racking moving to an unfamiliar place. However, to those coming in, I assure you that whether it's catching an Orioles game with friends, grabbing coffee by the harbor, or even studying outside in Patterson Park, Baltimore becomes an instant home that welcomes you in with open arms.

What advice do you have for prospective students interested in joining the PFRH community?

My biggest advice for prospective students is to embrace the opportunities and wealth of knowledge joining PFRH brings. In this department, you are not only receiving a world-class education but also a joining community that is always looking to help you in any way they can, and shares a passion for saving lives—millions at a time.