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Mohammad (Moe) Alghawi

Mohammad (Moe) Alghawi

Class Of 2023

Applied Experience: World AIDS Museum and Educational Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  • Briefly describe what you did for your Applied Experience and any highlights.

For my Applied Experience, I worked at the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The museum has a mission of promoting dialogue surrounding HIV/AIDS to reduce stigma through means of education, cultural programming and artistic expression. Throughout my time here, I was responsible for curating several museum exhibits as well as helping host educational workshops to engage the surrounding Broward County community. As an exhibit curator, a few projects of mine included sharing the story and influence of Keith Haring who was an American pop-artist in New York City whose graffiti art popularized during the wake of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Another project focused on providing the history of nonoxynol-9 as a spermicide and debunking the myth of it being a form of STI prevention. My most recent contribution to the museum was researching the intersection of theatre and HIV/AIDS which included collecting print and digital media centered around plays or musicals focusing on the AIDS crisis.

Aside from exhibit development, I also had the great opportunity of collaborating in some educational workshops, one of which focused on teaching middle to high-school aged youth the importance of sexual health and another that targeted strategies parents can use to approach their kids about topics such as sexuality and safe sex practices, both of which were met with great enthusiasm and curiosity!

  • How has your experience informed your understanding of public health?

My time at WAM revealed to me how tangible and interdisciplinary the field of public health truly is. What I appreciated most from this experience was the freedom I had in my ability to use creative outlets to share the history and importance of a public health issue as large as HIV/AIDS. I was able to combine my passion for theatre with my interests in HIV/AIDS to generate discussion and open-mindedness centered around the AIDS crisis to help in destigmatizing the virus in ways I had never thought possible.

The research I conducted while crafting exhibit pieces and preparing workshops led me to focus on public health concepts such as prevention, intervention techniques and health communication as well as more specific topics on certain target populations like LGBTQ+ individuals and people who inject drugs. I am eternally grateful to WAM for showing me that public health is an art that is all around us in ways beyond what we can imagine.

  • How does this experience align with your future goals?

Following graduation, I am matriculating to Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health for my MPH in Sociomedical Sciences with specialization in Sexuality, Sexual and Reproductive Health. I credit my time working at WAM for pinpointing my passions within the field of public health. I am particularly interested in working within the socio-behavioral realm and understanding the impacts of health disparities within marginalized communities as it relates to the intersections of mental health, substance use and sexual health. I feel as though WAM equipped me with the skills necessary to create a meaningful impact on the lives of many and I am excited to see where further studies and experiences will take me!

  • How do you think your time at JHU prepared you for this work?

Courses I have taken over my four years at JHU have certainly given me the confidence I needed in understanding topics such as sexually transmitted infections which proved useful during my AE. As both a Molecular/Cellular Biology and Public Health Studies major, I was able to understand STIs in both a biological and public health perspective. Courses such as “The Biology of Disease” gave an overview of the pathways and mechanisms that progress diseases (some of which included STIs) through the combination of biochemistry, genetics, developmental biology and molecular biology.                                

Working cooperatively, “Introduction to Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health” and classes at the Bloomberg School of Public Health allowed me to approach topics through a different lens that focuses more so on the social and ecological perspective of population health and how internal and external factors exacerbate health outcomes. Understanding both the biological and social components of a complex virus such as HIV/AIDS has deepened my passion in continuing future work with populations living with the virus and further research in intervention strategies.