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College Celebrates First Graduates from Dual Degree Program at UArizona Microcampus in United Arab Emirates

Dean Iman Hakim, third from left, with Dual MPH Degree students Adama Sani Usman, Aya Hasan, and Sonal Lavakumar Budihal.

We celebrate the first two graduates of the Dual MPH program, a collaboration between the University of Arizona and Gulf Medical University in Ajman, United Arab Emirates. A new cohort of 9 students began the program in October 2021.


The Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH) at the University of Arizona recently celebrated the first graduates of the Dual Degree MPH program offered jointly by MEZCOPH and Gulf Medical University in Ajman, United Arab Emirates. The dual degree program enables students to complete a U.S.-accredited degree entirely in the United Arab Emirates. Students complete coursework divided between both institutions, and earn two degrees at once: an MPH in Public Health Practice from the University of Arizona and an MPH in Public Health Practice from Gulf Medical University.

The two new graduates, Sonal Lava Kumar, MD, MPH and Adama Sani Usman, MPH graduated in August 2021. In October, a cohort of 9 new students began the dual degree!

“Public health has helped me foster my leadership skills. I have learned the impact of good health policies and targeted health promotional activities to empower people in communities," said Dr. Kumar, “I believe I am a lot closer to achieving my goals as a healthcare leader, and I have built stronger professional connections with other public health personnel through the program. It was an ideal opportunity for me.”

Students in this dual degree program follow Public Health Practice MPH program level competencies. These competencies guide student learning and curriculum planning including activities and required courses. Students learn to develop, manage, and evaluate public health programs designed to address health issues in disparate populations and to address health beliefs in a variety of cultures. In addition, students obtain administration and fiscal management skills to support health programs.

This program allows students the chance to learn about public health from the perspective of another country and expand their professional network. Students graduate from this program with dual degrees, and also with relationships among two sets of faculty teachers, providing them with diverse and influential alumni networks as they move forward in their public health careers.

“I am so proud of these two women who are our first graduates of the dual degree program,” said Christine L. Girard, ND, MPH, lecturer with MEZCOPH, “I had the distinct pleasure of working with them in one of their first classes (569) and in their final capstone class (580).  They demonstrated a progression of knowledge, skills, and competency that is a credit to our college. Congratulations to them both and I look forward to working with our next cohort this Spring.”

“These first graduates make us all proud. Our partnership with Gulf Medical University connects the expertise and cultural perspectives of faculty from both institutions,” said Iman Hakim, MD, PhD, MPH, Dean of the Zuckerman College of Public Health, “This program is part of our global public health mission, and we are building it with a new cohort of students. We are so pleased to congratulate these first graduates who will go on to be champions for public health in their own communities.”

We would like to thank Cecilia Rosales, MD, MS and the outstanding faculty who were instrumental in the success of this program including Gail Barker, PhD, MBA, Doug Campos-Outcalt, MD, MPA, Eileen Eisen-Cohen, PhD, MSW, Christine Girard, ND, MPH, Adaeze Oguegbu, PhD, MS, MSc, MPH, CHES, Raju Thiagarajan, MD, MPH, and Gabriela Valdez, PhD. In addition, we would like to thank our exceptional partners at Gulf Medical University, who have given their time and expertise to create a top-quality dual degree program in collaboration with MEZCOPH.

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