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Alumni in Focus

BSMS > About BSMS > Alumni > Alumni in focus - Marta Fernandez-Arias


Marta Fernandez-Arias (Global Health 2012)

Marta Fernandez-Arias

After completing her dissertation research project in one of Lima’s largest hospitals, Marta signed up with VSO to go to South Sudan to apply her new skills in the field. She has now been with the American Refugee Committee (ARC) there for over two years.

Talking to us, she shared happy memories of BSMS and what the phrase ‘A woman is not a chicken’ means to her!

What brought you to BSMS?

What brought me to Brighton was the combination of a school with a great reputation, a really interesting Masters programme and a very attractive city (I still miss Brighton beach!). Before studying at BSMS I was working as a pharmacist. I had completed my pharmacy degree in Spain some years back and had moved to the UK because of a good job opportunity.


Where are you now?

I am in South Sudan at the moment. I have been working here for over two years now, and am based in a small town called Magwi, working as a Health System Strengthening Manager for ARC.

My work focuses on improving the capacity of the public health system at local level, and strengthening the skills of national health workers.


What do you feel has been the biggest benefit of studying the MSc in Global Health?

Completing the MSc in Global Health made my career change possible. I had been particularly interested in global health for a long time, and I’d always known I wanted to work in the development or humanitarian sectors, but I didn’t really know where to start. My Masters at BSMS made it possible for me to shift my career in that direction and start working on what I really enjoy.

Marta by South Sudan Ministry of Health sign

What has been your proudest moment?

I remember that great feeling when I received confirmation that my Masters research project was going to be published. It was not the first time my name would appear on a scientific paper, but this one was different – it was my personal project, the one I had designed from scratch while at BSMS, and then funded and implemented myself, so it felt like a huge personal achievement.

Of course, I did not do the project alone, and the support of the Center of Excellence in Chronic Diseases (CRONICAS) of Peru made it possible, but I still felt very proud of myself.

Read Marta's research paper >

What are you favourite memories of BSMS?

I remember the discussions with my classmates at the BSMS cafeteria. We were all so passionate about global health that even during our lunch hour and coffee breaks we would keep discussing the lecture topics. There was no such thing as a boring subject or a boring lecture and we all came to class every morning full of energy and enthusiasm, with our minds open to learn. It was a fantastic atmosphere.


Who has inspired you most in life?

My parents have inspired me to work hard and never give up my goals in life. My appreciation for honesty and hard work is definitely owed to them.


What the skill that you would most like to have?

In terms of technical skills, I wish I had clinical nursing skills, especially in maternal and child health. I hope at some point in the future I will have the opportunity to acquire these.

I would also love to improve my French. I can speak several languages but French has always been my weakest point – I have tried to many times and still not managing… I need to work on that.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

I have been lucky enough to have received a lot of good advice in my life. But for some reason I like one sentence my dad used to say to me jokingly when I was little: “Unha muller non é unha pita”, which would translate to English roughly as “A woman is not a chicken”, meaning I should always be strong and confident.

What is your next move?

I am very satisfied with the kind of work I do, so I expect to continue working in the same field, at least in the nearest future. But you never know what other opportunities may arise, so I like to keep my future open.


Describe BSMS in three words! 

Inclusive, inspiring, life-changing (is that one word or two words?)