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Sarah Ruth Hoffman is a fourth year doctoral student in Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

1. What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I noticed that I was leaving undergrad with deeper questions about my field that I wanted to pursue. More than anything, I wanted to learn the skills that I needed to pursue them. This meant learning to become a professional researcher.

2. What’s the thing you love most about Chapel Hill?

In addition to the eggplant curry at Vimala’s, I deeply appreciate the amazing performances brought to us from around the world by Carolina Performing Arts. Last season’s “Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey” and “Glass at 80” series were truly transformative.

3. If you had any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, what would it be?

Take your desire seriously and do not be intimidated by the “whole double scene”* of academia. Insert yourself into it wherever you can fit, as there is definitely a place for you. If you don’t get in the first time, just keep trying. Like the degree itself, the application process is a voyage of self-discovery. All journeys begin at the port, prior to departure. You don’t know where you are going or what you will see when you get there, but you’ve already committed yourself to the venture. If any of this resonates with you, keep going!

  1. What is your dream career after you’ve completed your studies?

My dream career is to be a brilliant leaf in the wind. I want to take the interesting questions as they come and persist through the creative process of using everything I know from all of my experience and merging it with new things I’m learning in order to solve humanity’s puzzles. That has been (and will always be) my job, regardless of the title or institution.

*”Spring and the Ashura” by Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933). Translation appearing in: Snyder, G. (1968). The back country. New York: New Directions.

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