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Natalie West

Public Health Through Language Learning 

Growing up, Natalie West developed a passion and talent for learning languages and engaging in cultural exchange. After graduating from Kenyon College with a double major in modern languages and music, West received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Nepal.

Back in the U.S., an internship led to a job with the International Rescue Committee, where she used her language skills to help French- and Nepali-speaking refugees resettle in Baltimore, Maryland. 

“I envision building on my international development training and experience in public health nutrition to deepen my understanding of the social determinants of health.”

An unsuccessful bid for a job in Burundi then prompted West to pursue a master’s degree in international development in Paris. During her program, she interned for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Ghana, gaining insights into the systemic problems that prevent the low-income world’s poorest populations from accessing nutritious diets. 

After receiving her degree in 2016, West spent seven years working with WFP to analyze food systems in several African and Asian countries. While implementing nutrition programs in Madagascar over the past two years, she found coordinating projects with field staff and local communities to be rewarding, but eventually realized that an MPH would equip her with the knowledge and methodological skill sets to be hands-on in designing and evaluating public health programs. A degree from the Bloomberg School will help her expand her abilities to work more broadly in areas of public health related to nutrition, she says, especially in promoting health equity in disadvantaged settings. 

“With my new skills, I plan to continue working on reducing health disparities at the global level, but also hope to serve marginalized communities at home in the United States,” she says.