After graduating from the Yale School of Public Health’s intense M.S. in Chronic Disease Epidemiology program earlier this year, Ronald Chow, M.S., CDE ’21, said he would one day like to step foot in New Haven and thank his faculty mentors in person.
“It was one year full of learning,” he said, referring to his fully remote experience. “Probably the most learning I’ve done in my life so far.”
The COVID-19 pandemic made Chow’s arrival at the Yale School of Public Health unique. A Canadian resident of Canada, Chow graduated in 2020 with a degree in epidemiology from Western University, one of the country’s top schools. Virtual programs offered during the pandemic allowed him to broaden his search for graduate programs internationally. In a discussion with a mentor, Chow said that YSPH would be a dream because of the way the one-year Master of Science degree program in Chronic Disease Epidemiology was structured. He decided to attend soon after.
The first day of class was exactly what Chow expected. His schedule for the semester included seven tough courses. But he said he was up for the challenge, especially because of the program’s support and encouragement.
“We’re literally baptized in fire,” he explained. “I guess that’s the price to pay for a good education. The courses were really pushing me … but this was expected. It’s YSPH, one of the best universities in the world.”
After spending time in classes at YSPH, Chow said he managed to thrive even without ever seeing New Haven. His initial concerns about encountering difficulties while trying to reach out to professors largely disappeared. Dean Sten Vermund and other faculty members offered their personal cell phone numbers to Chow, and many responded to his emails even on weekends and holidays.
“If I see them on the street, I may not recognize them,” Chow chuckled. “If they talk to me, I will recognize their voices.”
Chow’s success extended past the classroom. Despite being far from campus, he involved himself in research with the Yale School of Medicine and met mentors who enabled him to apply what he had learned in his classes to real-world problems. And he collected publications along the way, too. Chow said that he focuses primarily on supportive care for patients with cancer, but his time at YSPH also pushed him to research the effects of statins on individuals infected with COVID-19.
After graduating in May, he continued his research as a research fellow at New York Proton Center/Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Now, as he begins attending medical school, Chow said he is grateful for the preparation that YSPH has provided.
“It was initially daunting for me at YSPH, but I gave it a shot,” he said. “People are really open and supportive of asking questions.”