Trinity University is celebrated for its curriculum that provides students with an amazing breadth of knowledge before they graduate and journey off into the world. This is especially true for former Trinity student Divina Varghese. Divina majored in religion as an undergraduate student and then graduated from the Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) program with a certification in Grades 7-12 mathematics in 2014. Since graduating from the MAT program, Divina has held a variety of different and exciting positions, all of which her Trinity undergraduate and MAT background prepared her for.
For four years, Divina worked abroad in Bahrain as a middle school math teacher and a department coordinator. She found this position during her second semester of the MAT, when she went to an international teaching fair at the University of Northern Iowa for students interested in teaching abroad. Divina met and interviewed with the school she was eventually hired at. They offered her a conditional job offer on the spot, pending completion of her degree.
Although there were some things she would change about her time abroad, Divina loved the experience as it pushed her out of her comfort zone and challenged the preconceived notions she had about the world. “I would never trade my experience teaching in Bahrain for anything,” Divina said.
Divina met a lot of cool people and made many friends in Bahrain as they bonded over the interesting experiences they were having in a new country. “These are some of the strongest and long-lasting friendships I have,” she said. She also found that depending on how well established the school is, there was a greater degree of vertical mobility for staff. Within three years of teaching, Divina was promoted to head of the middle school math department.
In 2018 Divina moved back to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s in Public Health from John Hopkins University. She currently works in Baltimore, MD, as a program administrator for John Hopkins University Alliance for a Healthier World, an organization that aims to reduce global health inequities by funding multi-disciplinary research conducted by Johns Hopkins faculty.
She also manages the development of a course for the World Health Organization Academy on Gender, Health Equity, and Human Rights. Although Divina is not teaching now, she still engages with the field by participating in research aimed at understanding funding mechanisms for early childhood education in emergency settings.
Divina believes that in public health there are certain structural or social determinants in society like race, socio-economic status, gender, and education which affect overall health outcomes. “Since research has shown a strong linkage between access to quality education and positive health outcomes, I've been able to conduct research in this field because of my prior experience as a classroom educator,” Divina said.
Since her time in the MAT program, Divina has realized that having a degree in teaching has more applications than just teaching students in the classroom. “I whole-heartedly believe the MAT program to be a worthwhile investment in your future, whether that future includes teaching in a classroom or using the knowledge you gain to further your career in another field altogether,“ Divina said.
In the next few years Divina would like to pursue a doctoral degree in public health or find work related to the monitoring and evaluation of programs that focus on the intersection of health and education.