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First Person Student

Sule Calikoglu, PhD Candidate
Health Policy and Management

A Turkish student hopes to use her public health expertise to improve the way health care is delivered in her homeland.

I come from Turkmenli Koyu, in western Turkey, near Troy. It is a village of 500 people, and people there tend not to send their daughters to schools like the ones I went to. But my mother said, “If she wants to go, let her go!”

I was glad to be able to break the rules. I was 12 when I went away to school, where I learned to be a nurse. After that I went to university in Ankara to study political science and public administration. I was going to school in the day and working at night in a hospital.

That’s when I started to see how the care that people received depended on the different social classes they were from. The patients who didn’t have economic means, they’d get worse care. They’d have to wait longer to get into the hospital, and then they would be sent home from the hospital sooner. I saw this—but I couldn’t do anything, because I didn’t have enough power.

So I came to Johns Hopkins University, and I took the master’s in public policy. Now I am in the PhD program here at the School of Public Health. My interest is in health disparities and socioeconomic determinants of health.

I see myself back in Turkey in a few years, working in one of the universities and maybe working with the government to tackle the problems in the health care system.

When I go back to Turkmenli Koyu now, everyone is hoping that I will be, you know, a “big man,” helping the people of the village. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?