‘Rising star’ graduate: Sylvia Ofori’s journey from Ghana to Georgia Southern to HarvardJune 6, 20222 min read
On her first flight from Ghana to the United States, Sylvia Ofori arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, at 1 a.m. By 4 o’clock the next afternoon, Ofori was in her first American classroom in Georgia Southern University’s Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health on the Statesboro Campus.
Jet-lagged and attempting to absorb a foreign campus and classroom procedures, Ofori was out of sorts when her professor, Isaac Chun-Hai Fung, Ph.D., encouraged her to apply for a student research position following class introductions.
Within days, she’d interviewed and earned the spot, supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In their first meeting, Fung challenged Ofori to publish 10 papers by the end of her public health doctoral program.
“I wasn’t familiar with publications, but he threw that challenge at me from the beginning,” Ofori remembered. “Wow. His plan was for me to start working on dissertation-related projects immediately.”
Ofori’s first project was a scoping review on the use of digital technology to improve and monitor handwashing in children. Following a presentation of her review at the University’s 2019 Research Symposium, her work was published in an academic journal, and many more followed as co-author with Fung and another mentor, Kamalich Muniz-Rodriguez, DrPH.
By the end of her doctoral training, Sylvia had published 11 papers with Fung, and three more manuscripts will be submitted.
On May 13, Ofori earned a DrPH in public health with a concentration in epidemiology as she crossed the stage in one of two Savannah commencement ceremonies. In June, she’ll begin as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard University to continue global public health research she began at Georgia Southern.
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