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Alumni Spotlight: Ify Chikezie, BA ’15, MPH ’16

December 14, 2021

Describe your current job and why you find it rewarding.

I.C.: I’m currently a third-year student at Yale Law School (YLS). I like that being a law student allows me to explore public health from a different vantage point. For example, while in law school, I work with the HAVEN Free Clinic and Transitions Clinic where I help support patients with their civil legal needs. Additionally, I supported litigation and legislation efforts that centered public health arguments in challenging the use of solitary confinement and restraints. I’ve found activities like these rewarding because they merge my interests with health with my interests in human rights and combating the carceral state.

How did your YSPH education prepare or guide you for your current work in public health?

I.C. My YSPH education was what first introduced me to the nexus of public health and the law. Taking classes with professors like Shelley Geballe and Chima Ndumele helped center the relevance of legal and regulatory frameworks in how we think about health policy and public health more broadly. I always tell people I was “inception-ed” with the idea to attend law school while I was a YSPH student!

What was a seminal experience for you at YSPH?

I.C. At YSPH, taking courses like Public Health Law with Shelley Geballe and receiving strong mentorship from professors like Chima Ndumele informed my decision to pursue my legal education. Moreover, YSPH set me up well for my post-grad jobs—working on gender-based violence in Rwanda and in nonprofit consulting in New York. This also helped crystallize my decision to attend law school and has informed the classes and extracurriculars that I have been involved with at YLS.

What advice or guidance would you give to current public health students?

I.C. I’d advise current public health students to take advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of graduate studies at Yale. Seek out courses and professors that interest you, and while YSPH has a great bunch of both courses and professors, feel free to tap into other areas of Yale as you explore your academic and professional interests. While at the law school, I’ve worked with students from YSPH in both classroom and extracurricular settings, and the cross-pollination makes our work better.

My YSPH education was what first introduced me to the nexus of public health and the law.

Ify Chikezie

Submitted by Colin Poitras on December 10, 2021