How The Humphrey Fellowship Advanced Monzur Morshed Patwary’s Public Health Career

Oct 05, 2023
Humphrey Fellowship winner Monzur Patwary, standing to the far left wearing a gray dress jacket, visiting the CDC Foundation with another Hubert H. Humphrey fellow.
Monzur Patwary (far left) visiting the CDC Foundation with another Hubert H. Humphrey fellow.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship is a yearlong professional enrichment program through Fulbright Exchange for mid-career professionals from designated countries to collaborate with U.S. organizations to share best practices, participate in specialized leadership and professional development experiences, and study at U.S. university. The mission of the program is to build lasting relationships between U.S. and International leaders and advance solutions to mankind’s most pressing global challenges.

We interviewed Monzur Morshed Patwary, from Bangladesh, who was awarded a Humphrey Fellowship and had the opportunity to study at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Monzur shares how the Humphrey Fellowship helped advance his career in public health and provides words of advice for prospective applicants.

How did you become interested in pursuing a career in public health?

Following various life experiences in diverse fields, my foray into public health was driven by a strong desire for a fulfilling role that would empower me to positively influence communities and tackle disparities. My unique background would allow me to leverage my communication and analytical skills and my technological acumen to add considerable value to this multidisciplinary field.

What led you to apply for the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship? What made you an ideal candidate? 

Having been in my current organization for nearly four years, I felt it was an ideal time to seek new perspectives and broaden my horizons. The Humphrey H. Fellowship’s emphasis on leadership development, providing opportunities to work and network with professionals at renowned organizations, and its strong partnership with Emory University-Rollins School of Public Health were all compelling reasons for me to apply.

I was one of the three individuals selected from Bangladesh out of nearly 700 applicants, and I believe my application stood out because I did the following:

    • I researched the mission of the fellowship program and what it can offer.
    • I provided specific examples of demonstrated leadership in my professional role.
    • I specifically outlined my post-fellowship goals.
    • I briefly explained how the fellowship can help me become a leader.

The valuable insights from my tenure at BRAC significantly bolstered my responses to leadership and public service-related questions on the application.

Monzur Morshed Patwary, taking the picture, with other fellows in his cohort attending training in Washington D.C., as part of the fellowship. Fellows are sitting at rows of longs desks with computers and an instructor walks around checking on them.
Monzur Morshed Patwary, taking the picture with other fellows in his cohort attending training in Washington D.C., as part of the fellowship.

What was an average week like during your Humphrey Fellowship? Can you share some highlights or key takeaways?

An average week during the fellowship included graduate-level courses at Emory University-Rollins School of Public Health, active participation in weekly “Humphrey Seminars,” or/and site visits to esteemed local public health organizations. It is important to note that the fellowship provided flexibility, allowing fellows to explore additional opportunities aligned with their individual interests and goals. Furthermore, many fellows commenced part-time work at local organizations after the first semester to fulfill the mandatory professional affiliation component.

The Humphrey Fellowship stood out for several remarkable aspects. One of the most striking opportunities it provided was direct interaction with CEOs and directors of prestigious organizations, offering insights far beyond the standard student experience. The program also allowed us to attend seminars on the US health system and explore topical areas, including emerging public health challenges. Perhaps equally significant, I am genuinely grateful for the lasting friendships I forged with fellow participants from diverse global backgrounds. Throughout this fellowship journey, I was fortunate to meet my mentor, who not only provided invaluable guidance, but also connected me with many professionals in the United States.

Monzur Morshed Patwary, wearing traditional maroon and white clothing, standing center with eleven others in his cohort for the 2022-2023 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship at Emory University.
Monzur Morshed Patwary (center, wearing maroon and white) with the 2022-2023 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship cohort at Emory University.

How has the Humphrey Fellowship aided your public health career and academic journey?

I really benefited from the fact that the Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship has high visibility in renowned Atlanta-based organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC Foundation, the Carter Center, and the Task Force for Global Health. The presence of these institutions leads to a rich ecosystem of expertise, research collaborations, and networking opportunities that fellows like me were able to utilize. I also gained invaluable experience at the Task Force for Global Health and CDC Foundation through the “professional affiliation” component of the fellowship. It also allowed me to facilitate new partnerships and mobilize resources for public health initiatives in my home country. The fellowship also provided a “professional development” stipend, allowing me to access in-person training in scientific writing, public health surveillance, and ArcGIS, as well as opportunities to travel to various US cities for relevant conferences.

Furthermore, enrolling in graduate-level public health courses at the 4th ranked university in the US positions me favorably for admission to top-tier academic programs in the future, further advancing my academic pursuits.

And finally, what advice would you give young professionals interested in public health or wanting to study abroad?

Based on my experience, I have a few pointers for young professionals or early graduates interested in public health (or any other field) and wanting to study abroad:

    • Do not self-reject yourself
    • Give yourself enough time for the written responses and reference letters
    • Reach out to people who have recently studied abroad or received scholarships
    • Utilize social media to find scholarship and funding opportunities
    • Develop cultural sensitivity and embrace diversity

I want to end by saying public health is a multidisciplinary field that values the richness of diverse experiences. There is no one prescribed path into the field. What truly matters is one’s passion for public health and commitment to positively impacting communities and populations.

Interested in applying to this fellowship? Bookmark the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship to your ProFellow account. In addition, you may also want to read our interview with Humphrey Fellowship winner Özlem Durmuş.

Monzur Morshed Patwary, 2022-2023 Humphrey Fellowship WinnerMonzur Morshed Patwary is a public health professional with 11+ years of experience in organizations like BRAC, The Task Force for Global Health, and the CDC Foundation. As a Senior Programme Manager at BRAC, he has led large-scale projects involving emergency response and digitalization of training for community health workers. Monzur completed his bachelor’s from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship from Emory University. He is also a PMI-certified Project Manager. Monzur represents Bangladesh on global platforms such as ParisWHO and the HPAIR Harvard Conference. Most recently, he was named a 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Award winner by BCPH.

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