So I ran a 5k

Apologies for such a late post…I drafted this a while ago and just put it up now

So if you have been following this blog you probably know that I was going to run my first 5k ever.

Well, (on June 28th 2015)  I ran it, and survived! I never considered myself as a runner, but I had a great team of people supporting me and I did a training program.

I started running at the beginning of April after a visit home coupled with some motivation from friends got me interested in running a 5k.

The Baltimore Women’s Classic is a great first 5k for anyone to do it, and they have their own training programs to help beginner runners like me to get started and train properly.

I did one of the Charm City Run training programs and they prepared us for almost everything except the start. I started too far back and had to weave my way through walkers and my chip time was 2 minutes faster than the gun time. So the lesson is to start further up.

My time was about 40 minutes which was better than any of my training runs. The last run I did before the actual 5k was in Patterson Park which had more hills than the actual course.

Instead of having team t-shirts I made crazy neon glittery headbands for everyone on our team

I signed up for my next 5k in October for the Baltimore Running Festival and to try and keep running even when it starts getting cold. I think I would like to get up to a 10K if possible.

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Our team before and after!

Hopefully I can keep this up, and the more races I can do with included swag the better!

What happens now?

This has been a question that has been bubbling in my head for the past few days/weeks. Two weeks ago I got my MPH and I’m still plugging away.

One task is refining my capstone presentation and paper examining correlates of self-resported Sexually Transmitted Infections among Men who have sex with men in Burkina Faso

(Watch the video presentation here!)

In order for this to be remotely considered for publication, it needs to be sent to the researchers in Burkina Faso as it is also their dataset.

In other news I have been applying for jobs. I’m not going to say much about this because of the visibility of this blog. So far my status post-MPH is uncertain. I try to apply to a few jobs that interest me every day, and hope that I hear back. Thankfully the long Peace Corps application process has been great preparation.

Ideally I want a job that combines research and practice, that I can hold on to for at least a few years, and then apply to PhD or DrPH programs. I’m not sure about working internationally and I have mixed feelings about it.

To me, good international development involves effective initial training of host country nationals and then some monitoring by the outside organization, and then letting the locals run the program.

As for the moment, I want to stay in Baltimore. I love it here, I love the community, and I’m in a committed relationship. Also, it seems that if you want to do public health, Balt/Wash or Atlanta are the places to be.

Looking forward to more applying, waiting, and post-MPH capstoning. I’m trying to create more structured days so I feel more productive. Without my school schedule, motivation is hard and sometimes I envy my boyfriend who has a real job and a more structured lifestyle.

As one of my wise BF Peace Corps buddies always says

“This too shall pass”

An Update…

Hi Everyone.

It’s been a crazy 7 months since my last post.

What’s been going on?

I’m 3 weeks away from graduating (EEK). It’s scary and exciting at the same time.

My capstone is almost finished and is looking at characteristics of self-reported STI testing among MSM in Burkina Faso. Rough draft handed in, final draft due next Friday!

So Sara, What’s Next?

I really don’t know. I’ve sent out a bunch of job applications and currently the jury is out. Until after I graduate, I’m not really able to send out applications unless it’s the type of thing that I can send just a resume/CV to.

Also, I’ve decided to run a 5k. Scary.


Long story short, felt that if I am going to be a successful public health practitioner, that I should be healthy and practice what I preach. I’ve been running two times a week with the BF and I seem to be inching along.

So. That’s what’s up. Hopefully I will have more to post soon.

Watch me on Jeopardy!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! SET YOUR DVRs! 4 weeks from today I will be a contestant on Jeopardy! on Wednesday, October 1st!

I can’t tell you what happens because I signed a 12 page contract so you must tune in to find out!

In Baltimore: 7:00pm on WBFF Fox 45 Baltimore
In Detroit: 7:30pm on WDIV NBC Channel 4

All other cities: Check your local listings at

It’s a family affair in terms of Jeopardy! My dad was on in 2008! He made an excellent powerpoint!.pps

Watch me rev up the competition on Jeopardy!


Two weeks into my MPH Program

And this comes up on a facebook chat…



EH = Environmental Health

Pop Dy= Population Dynamics


Seriously though. I’m geeking out every day and it’s Awesome!

MPH program first impressions

So I started my MPH program at Hopkins on Monday. Two days of orientation, two days of class, and then the Fourth of July!

One of my PC Burkina friends asked me what the program was like so far, I said that it was like “Stage” (Pre-service training). Classes go from 8:30 to 5pm and we don’t have a lot of breaks. I get home and do not want to do anything else.

First impressions:
The majority of the class are clinicians/med students. I’m not one of them. It’s a little intimidating.

Our class seems to be very social. We are always planning events and bar nights. It’s sort of hard being “on” all the time. Trying to socialize and meet people, and also be switched on to pay attention in class. Speaking of which, We haven’t even had all of our classes yet. Introduction to Bioethics in Public health only meets on a Tuesday.

We have a very diverse class. About half the class are from different countries. It’s fun talking about different cultures, and also creating inside jokes about an Italian student marrying another student just to get his green card. Because he’s not looking for a significant other, just a green card.

I go to a green campus and people totally embrace technology! Except sometimes technology doesn’t work…like getting locked out of the Responsible Conduct for Research module or not being able to see any of the e-reserves.

More updates to follow. Certainly felt this was more like week 0 than week 1.

My current frustrations with social media

Disclaimer: Ok, so this is a bit of a rant post. You have been warned.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for months but I’ve been holding back. I’m really frustrated with social media. So much so that part of me wishes that I could go back to Burkina Faso and be off the grid for awhile.

Let’s start with the not so good.

People use social media as a form of validation. They post things online to get immediate feedback to feel validated. Because people always care about what others think of them. People post their personal views online and by doing that, they invite other people to agree and disagree with it. I too, like it when I post something and get likes on facebook. Who doesn’t? It’s something that makes you feel good about yourself and is a “warm fuzzy.”

While I agree with sharing ideas and keeping an open forum is a noble endeavor and starts a dialogue, I’ve observed that it can turn into a festering infection of negative comments and arguing. This negativity really frustrates me. If you believe something, there’s always going to be someone who disagrees with you. That’s the way things are.

The worst is when people post things that have not been fact-checked out of frustration or other extreme emotion. Maybe they were feeling upset and felt that they could use social media as a venting outlet. As this may be an attempt to work out feelings constructively, it’s really not. When I was a PCV, I observed the impact of negative venting when other PCVs would gossip about problems at site or problems with other people. It turned into a negative firestorm of venting, and when combined with the stress and “hot house” atmosphere turned into an inferno.

Many of these posts have the attitude of I’m feeling <intense emotion here> so i’m going to post something about it. That’s unfortunate/great that you are feeling that emotion, but maybe it’s not a good idea to post it online.

One situation that particularly distressed me was something that happened at my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

During the polar vortex of 2014, the students were not given a snow day and took to twitter with a very offensive hash tag against the current chancellor. (You can read more about it here). I was very appalled and disappointed at the response by the students. At the time I was taking classes at Wayne State and we got snow days. Wayne State is a unique campus because they are mostly a commuter campus. There are many part time students who have full time jobs, or families. If schools in the area are closed, many of the students with children have to scramble to find child care or stay home to take care of them. That’s not the case at UIUC which is a generally residential campus. The response by the students festered and turned into this infection of hate against the current chancellor. I can understand students being bummed out because they didn’t get a snow day, but their response was unacceptable.

These days on facebook, i don’t post much about myself. When I was in a relationship, it wasn’t on facebook, I didn’t make a big announcement about where I was going to grad school. Recently I’ve been mostly posting about the world cup and the West African teams I support. Every time I look at the site, I tend to get frustrated seeing ignorance and posts that come out of rash decisions and it makes me want to leave.

However, social media does have its benefits. My grad school has a facebook group for my class and it’s enabled me to make some friends and facilitate meeting up with other students. I posted something on facebook to meet up with classmates before orientation and I got a lot of responses from other students who had arrived in Baltimore and were waiting for classes to start.

Social media is also great to keep me connected with people who are not local. This includes current PCVs in Burkina, and other Burkina RPCVs around the country. It also helped me find one of my high school classmates who is currently living and going to school in Baltimore. It’s also great for planning events and meetups and helping publicize things.

I’m extraordinarily grateful for the positive response to my blog and how it has helped people catch a glimpse of what I did in BF and how i’m adjusting.

In short: I’m torn. I love the positive benefits of social media and how it can be used for good. However its costs are making me very frustrated.

So Sara, what’s your point?

My point is that people should be mindful of what they post on social media, and here’s what I think.

1. Once you post something on the internet it’s there and you no longer have control over it, even if you delete a post. You must accept the reality that you may have opened Pandora’s Box. Actions have consequences.

2. People will disagree with what you post.

3. If you are upset/have intense feelings about something, take a breath or a time out and think before you post. Ask yourself if this is truly the best way to vent your feelings, or if this is something that may get back to you in a negative way.

4. Because things are written online, things can be taken out of context and the tone of the post may be interpreted differently than what you intended. If you put the emphasis on different parts of the sentence, then it means different things. It’s harder to detect the intention behind the words.

The classic example is:

I didn’t say you were stupid,

I didn’t say you were stupid,

I didn’t say you were stupid,

I didn’t say you were stupid. 

5. You don’t need people online to validate you and your existence. You are more than what people think of you online.

This is my form of venting, but I hope that I was able to put it in a positive context and to acknowledge the negative and positive powers of social media. Think before you post. We all make mistakes, but once it’s online it’s out of your control.