Where are they now? Conversations with alumni

‘Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.’ This quotation from author and counsellor Hugh Prather is very fitting for 2020 and is an important piece of wisdom for our alumnus Adekunle Adedeji from Nigeria. Adekunle graduated from HAW Hamburg in 2015 from our Master of Public Health (MPH) programme. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Nigeria, he decided to study in Germany as a way of connecting with a bigger world through international networks and the exposure to new cultures. Today he is a public health consultant, postdoctoral researcher and Feodor Lynen fellow.

‘When I decided to study in Germany, I felt ready to take up a new challenge for both my personal and career development. I felt a Master’s degree in Germany would offer the opportunity to learn in a competitive and well-organised environment. After my first semester at HAW Hamburg, I knew public health research was the career path I wanted to pursue. So, after completing my Master’s degree, I started a PhD programme at the prestigious Medical Centre-Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg. As a build-on to my Master’s thesis I was interested in the social factors that determine life quality for Sub-Saharan African migrant groups in Germany.

After completing my PhD, I worked with the UKE Child Public Health research group as a postdoctoral researcher. There I conceived the COPSY-Hamburg Study and participated in other ground-breaking research projects focusing on children and adolescent health. I was recently awarded the Feodor Lynen research fellowship by the Humboldt Foundation to develop a cross-cultural measure of microaggression for quality of life and wellbeing. The new project starts in January 2021 and will be in collaboration with North-West University in South Africa. My work is expected to span over two years and foster research cooperation between South Africa and Germany. Alongside my research, I enjoy teaching, coaching and mentoring students and individuals striving to learn about themselves and society.

In research it is crucial to be able to present your ideas in a way that is understandable, approachable and relatable. This was a skill I acquired through the interactive parts of the MPH programme at HAW Hamburg and I continue to finetune this skill through mentoring and coaching. Through the MPH programme I learnt how to identify public health problems, pose questions and find answers that promote health, wellbeing and quality of life. The programme also taught me how to apply critical thinking in research as well as identify and solve problems. My studies at HAW Hamburg improved my intercultural competence skills and helped me to simplify my understanding of complex societies as well as the challenges of a diverse world.

I would say to new students that it is vital to learn not only in the classroom but also outside of it. Don't limit yourself. Explore yourself and life and expose yourself to the world around you. Make friends, build networks, make a conscious effort to develop your skills through your new environment and never give up! There is so much more to learn outside of the classroom, your course or university. Ask for help, if and when you need assistance. And you will be just fine. For those of you about to graduate, don't stop learning. If and when you experience rejection while looking for work, use it as a tool to finetune your skills. Stay up to date, don't rush but don't slack either. Make plans but be flexible enough for change.’

Find out more about Adekunle Adedeji and his research 


Wiebke Bendt
Master of Public Health
HAW Hamburg