A bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry in Canada, an English teacher in Vietnam, and a master’s degree in Global Health in Maastricht. Rochelle Caruso’s journey is not one you see every day.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Rochelle travelled to Vietnam where she worked as an English teacher. This was an eye-opening experience which ignited her passion for public health, global challenges and education. That’s when the search started for a suitable master’s programme. In 2019, Rochelle started the master’s programme Global Health at Maastricht University.
When asking Rochelle if she chose Maastricht University for the programme or the university her answer is straightforward. "I chose Maastricht for the programme - I was very interested in Global Health and Maastricht kept coming up as a great university, so it was a relatively easy choice. When reading the course outline, I kept thinking, oh these are all my favourite things to talk about." Rochelle was also pulled in by Maastricht’s Problem-Based Learning method and the focus on international collaboration. Rochelle found these selling features translated directly into the course where she was provided the opportunity to discuss complex topics amongst her peers. "Our cohort was incredibly international, which gave us a lot of insight into how other healthcare systems work and how other cultures view health. In addition to learning from leading academics and peer-review publications, we learned from each other’s personal and professional experiences. This allowed our understanding on the topics to grow more meaningful, and personally allowed me to unlearn certain biases and incorrectly held ideas."
During Global Health, students choose between 11 different elective tracks - Rochelle chose Implementing Innovations. In this track, the focus lies on translating global health innovations and interventions to the local context. For Rochelle, it was a new way of looking at participatory approaches and co-creation, something she really utilises on a daily basis in her current role.
Rochelle works as a Project Officer at ERINN Innovation. Her role is to bring the many stakeholders of research together, bridging the gap from science to policy, industry, and society. In her words: "Make your science matter! If you come up with good ideas, but no one knows about it, what’s the use in it?"
One of her current projects ESCAPE (a Horizon 2020 project) aims to improve and integrate healthcare for multimorbid elderly patients. Multimorbid patients have complex healthcare needs and often experience problems as they have to navigate multiple care pathways and multiple healthcare professionals. This makes it the patients’ responsibility, or their caretakers’ responsibility, to manage appointments and medication, often resulting in ineffective treatment. With more than 50 million Europeans suffering from multimorbidity, it places a heavy financial and logistical burden on our healthcare systems. The need for a solution is urgent. Rochelle’s aim in this project is to garner attention for the project and its results for all relevant stakeholders, facilitating long-term project impact.
Rochelle did not immediately land her job as a project officer at ERINN Innovation and was juggling a few roles simultaneously. This included working as a tutorial instructor at Maastricht University, volunteering as a proposal writer for the ’Kar Geno-Center for Hope’ in Kenya, and interning at Alanda Health. After completing her internship, she then worked as a project manager at Alanda Health. It was only then that she secured her current role at ERINN Innovation. Therefore, Rochelle has one important takeaway for our current and future students: "maximise the opportunities you do get and focus on your transferable skills in the early stages of your career. The experiences you have are valuable and will lead to career progression."
Rochelle’s favourite memories of Maastricht? "Despite living through the first wave of COVID-19 in the latter half of my masters, I loved Maastricht and have so many great memories of my time there. It’s hard to pick just one, but my favourite place in the city is the café Alley Cat - I had a lot of great study sessions and chats with my classmates there! And of course, the Global Health Christmas party!" Curious as we are, we tried to unravel more information on Global Health’s famous Christmas Party, but no more details are shared with us. Apparently, you have to come and see for yourself!
’Not many natural scientists can offer the combination of basic research and clinically oriented research.’ - 22.03
QS 2023 Rankings by Subject - 22.03