By Luna Erica
Meet Roki: a passionate student with a dream to improve healthcare wherever it is limited. From her native Italy, she has already travelled to and lived in several countries in the past, even coming to Oxford to present her undergraduate dissertation. Now, she’s ready to finalize her studies and have a direct impact on the world.
“People are like, ‘can you just stay put somewhere?’ But this is what fuels me as a person. This is how I grow up. I feel like by living in different places and meeting new people and cultures and languages, I’ve become a better person.”
The first time Roki travelled to the USA, she was eighteen years old. “Obviously being female, and my parents being very religious as well, it’s not what they wanted.” What her parents did want was for her to marry and continue her education in the country. But Roki’s smile radiates confidence when she says that her years abroad were the best ones of her life. “I had to fend for myself and be away from everyone I knew. It makes you grow up so fast. And then it just becomes an addiction, like a drug. You become a whole new person – there’s no way you can just go back to who you were.” So on she went to London for her Bachelor’s degree, choosing now to stay there for her Master’s.
As for her area of studies, it suffices to say that healthcare has played its part in Roki’s life. Two years ago, she became sick. “Like, the ICU-kind of sick,” she emphasizes grimly. For Roki, it was a moment of fundamental realization that life is short and that there are two crucial parts of her that she wants to foster in her life: her loved ones and her travel. The experience helped her reconfirm how valuable a good healthcare system can be – something she was also taught growing up:
“My family comes from West Africa – sometimes I feel a bit guilty because I grew up in Italy, where the health system is okay. But then the same doesn’t apply for my brother, who lives down there with my nephews. It just doesn’t make sense that I have all this privilege and they don’t, just because of their geographical location. I don’t want to use that privilege for just profits, but also to help the people there – build up the healthcare system until you have something that works. Maybe I’ll work in the government at some point and help build houses and start my own businesses, who knows! If you’re healthy, mentally speaking and physically speaking, you can go a very long way.”
With her International Distinction Award from Studyportals, Roki continues to live abroad to study Global Public Health at Imperial College London. Using the money to fund her studies, and using her studies to improve global health, Roki is ready to take her voice global and change the developing healthcare systems forever.