Working to Help the Most Vulnerable Refugees
John Murray may be retired from 27 years in the Air Force, but in other areas of his life, he’s just ramping up. The student in Northwestern University School of Professional Studies’s Master of Science in Global Health online program hopes to provide some insight into one of the most pressing questions raised by current international events: how to help refugees.
“It’s such a contentious issue right now, what to do with the refugees,” Murray says. “Especially the child refugees. There are so many things that they need besides health care. They’ve been through some really traumatic experiences.” An article he’s written on the subject as part of his coursework has been accepted for publication in the Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing.
Murray’s educational path spans over 30 years, beginning with a bachelor of science from Northeastern University. After completing nursing school he joined the Air Force, where he worked in clinical leadership positions within pediatrics. Along the way, he also earned a master’s, post-master’s, and doctorate degree and twice served as the consultant to the Air Force surgeon general for pediatrics.
Murray completed numerous humanitarian missions during his time in the Air Force. At least twice a year, he traveled across the globe to countries like Belize, Chile, South Korea, Peru and Taiwan, tackling issues from disaster relief to psychiatric care. These experiences sparked his passion for global health.
“One of the things that I was missing after I retired was the opportunity to do the kind of humanitarian missions that I did all the time when I was in the Air Force,” Murray says. “That’s when I came across Northwestern’s program on global health.”
Murray lives in Boston and admits that he was skeptical about taking online courses, but the experience at Northwestern has turned him into a convert. “The technology that they have at Northwestern is just mind-blowing. It’s so easy to get the information, to participate in lectures, to have study groups. It really feels like you’re physically in class, except that you have the benefit of having classmates who live in different countries and can offer that perspective.”
Murray also appreciates the encouragement he has received to publish the findings from his studies. Besides his interest in caring for child refugees, he’s also focused research on neglected tropical diseases, and recently published a paper on intestinal parasites in children in India. “It’s really great to have faculty who encourage you to take what you learn and assimilate your findings, and to share what you learned with other people.”
Murray is looking forward to narrowing his interests to a topic for his upcoming practicum courses, which will include visiting the region he’ll be studying.
“There are a lot of areas in global health where I would like to try to make a difference in improving child health care in developing countries,” Murray says. Not content to simply absorb information, he’s eager to share his learnings and put them to use in the world, which is already a better place for his efforts.
Article by Kelsey Rexroat