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Georgetown Global Health Alumna Pursues DPhil at Oxford as Rhodes Scholar

September 14, 2021 – As a Rhodes Scholarship recipient, Sara Rotenberg (NHS’20), a global health alumna, has been in Oxford pursuing a DPhil in primary health care at St. Catherine’s College.  

Sara Rotenberg (NHS’20), the first recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, majored in global health and is now pursuing a DPhil in Oxford.

When she was awarded this prestigious distinction in fall of 2019, she became the School of Nursing & Health Studies’ first student to receive a Rhodes

Looking back, she said, “Overall, I had some incredible experiences and professors at Georgetown that not only helped me find my passion, but also prepared me well for my next steps at Oxford.”

Question: Tell us what you’re studying at Oxford?

Rotenberg: I am doing a doctor of philosophy (DPhil) in primary health care. As part of my research on building inclusive health systems for people with disabilities, my thesis focuses on how we can improve health worker training on disability. 

My work will hopefully help us to understand where people with disabilities have demand for health services and explore health workers’ perspectives of disability training to help improve its efficacy. 

Question: How is the doctoral program you are in structured?

Rotenberg: The DPhil is a 3- to 4-year research degree, which means I have no required classes and spend my time on my research and thesis throughout the year. 

Question: Have you enjoyed living in Oxford?

Rotenberg: Oxford’s a wonderful place to live. Not only does it have beautiful, historic buildings scattered throughout the town, but it also has incredible parks and nature just minutes from the city. Despite the pandemic restrictions, I have been able to explore lots of Oxford and have also joined my college’s boat club to try a new sport while I’m here.  

Question: What are you hoping to do in terms of your career?

Rotenberg: At this point I’m not certain what I want to do next, but I want to continue to work on mainstreaming disability inclusion within health and international development policy. 

While at Georgetown, I was fortunate enough to intern at the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Embassy of Canada to the United States, and the World Bank, which were all great opportunities to see what potential career paths are like in these larger development organizations.  

Rotenberg is a member of the Women’s 1st Rowing Team for the St. Catherine’s College Boat Club. (Photo courtesy Al Craigie)

Question: Finally, how do you feel your Georgetown education helped prepare you for the Rhodes and graduate study?

Rotenberg: At Georgetown, I was fortunate to have some incredible professors and mentors who supported my interests and encouraged me to apply for the Rhodes, so I really would not be here without their support. I also feel Georgetown’s focus on research and international and experiential learning helped me to realize my passion for disability inclusion and also how it could be applied within the field of global health. 

The global health major’s advanced coursework and fieldwork component also allowed me to qualify for a DPhil right away, rather than doing a master’s first. 

Overall, I had some incredible experiences and professors at Georgetown that not only helped me find my passion, but also prepared me well for my next steps at Oxford.

By Bill Cessato