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Jean Berchmans Uwimana

Choosing to be Part of the Solution

When Jean Berchmans Uwimana was a young child in Rwanda, he and his friends liked to pretend they were doctors. But in real life, there weren’t nearly enough doctors to treat the thousands of his generation, including those in refugee camps, who died of preventable medical conditions.

By the time he began applying to college, Uwimana had a tough choice to make: He could either become part of the solution to the physician shortage in Rwanda—a country with  around 1,700 doctors to care for a population of more than 13 million—or he could accept a prestigious and lucrative presidential scholarship to study gas and oil engineering at the University of Nigeria.

“I was born in a poor rural family with 11 siblings. I have never been and will never be discouraged by this status.”

Uwimana ultimately decided to pursue his medical degree at the University of Rwanda, where he also volunteered in public health networks and grassroots organizations including Medical Students for Choice and Healthy People Rwanda. In addition, at the university, he started the first non-U.S. chapter of the health equity organization GlobeMed. He also co-founded Flavors of Family Planning, an organization that uses common kitchen implements and humor to teach family planning solutions with a special focus on male engagement.

Uwimana says that he plans to use his dual degree from the Bloomberg School and Carey Business School to contribute to public health research and promote the supply chain and distribution of quality medical devices from high-income to low-income countries in service of health equity. “The combination of skills that I learn at Johns Hopkins will give me a better sense of how public health problems in low-resourced countries can be solved,” he says.