Student Highlight – Sarbinaz Bekmuratova is a doctoral student in the Department of Health Services Research and Administration in the College of Public Health (COPH). Sarbinaz is from Nukus, Uzbekistan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in philology at Karakalpak State University in 2005. She received an Edmund Muskie Fellowship funded by the US State Department to pursue her master’s degree in community health at Minnesota State University, where she graduated in the summer of 2012. She started her COPH PhD program in the fall of 2012.
The northwest region of Uzbekistan where Sarbinaz was born and raised is the area that witnessed the largest man-made ecological disaster of the 20th century: the evaporation of the Aral Sea. The sea has been the main water source in the region and dramatically affected the livelihood of residents around it. Seeing the adverse health effects of this disaster in her country and in her own community, she became increasingly concerned about the health of individuals. Her concern and her curiosity led her involvement in local and international organizations integrating public health activities in Nukus. During her participation in projects for organizations such as Counterpart International, the Uzbekistan Association of Reproductive Health, the United Nations Development Program, and Doctors without Borders, she developed a passion for the field of public health. Public health gives Sarbinaz an opportunity to make positive differences in people’s lives, to work with communities, to initiate new ideas, to learn about diverse cultures, and most importantly, to feel that she is a global citizen. As a public health professional, Sarbinaz aims to establish public health systems in developing countries.