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By Safiyyah Wilson PPS'24

Student headshot looking directly at camera
Safiyyah Wilson PPS'24

“Service before self.” This is one of the core values of the United States Air Force and the sentiments echoed by Captain Nahima Hoque who gave an insightful lecture to Dr. Boucher’s Introduction to U.S. Healthcare class.

As a public health officer in the Air Force, Captain Hoque carries an enormous amount of responsibility and wisdom. Some of her duties include tending to the greater community's health, monitoring health trends, advising on communicable disease mitigation, managing deployment health requirements, and briefing medical intelligence.

Before becoming a public health officer, Captain Hoque lived in Jordan as part of the Boren fellowship in which she studied Arabic to support the United States’ national security efforts. In listening to the words of Captain Hoque, it was clear she feels a great sense of responsibility for her position in the Air Force and derives joy from her profession as well.

As a college student, finding ways to intertwine career prospects and educational interests can be difficult. It can sometimes feel like the options post-graduation options are severely limited: medical school, finance, or consulting. However, in hearing from an established professional like Captain Hoque, it is evident that there is an opportunity to draw upon personal interests in the career field of your choice. 

Military officer speaking to class of students
Capt. Nahima Hoque speaks to Dr. Nathan Boucher's "Introduction to Health Policy" class. 

"Non-traditional paths add a more enriching experience and broader perspective that will be an asset to any organization/institution that can value and appreciate it". - Captain Hoque

Captain Hoque's words of wisdom resonated with me and will stick with me throughout my academic career. It can be difficult to avoid succumbing to the academic pressures that surround us. Whether that be pressure to choose a major that “sounds better” or extracurriculars that make your resume appear more competitive, true enriching experiences in your educational career can be derived from potentially non-traditional paths.

I’ve felt academic pressure to choose specific academic courses to prepare for life after graduation, regardless of their interest to me. This is not to say that you shouldn’t prepare for a post-graduate career, but it is a much-appreciated reminder that academic fulfillment and career success are not mutually exclusive.

Captain Hoque hopes to “combine all of those skills to support our global engagements and partnerships,” and I can only hope that upon graduation I can combine the skills afforded to me to make a difference in the greater community.


Safiyyah Wilson is a Trinity junior studying Public Policy and Sociology and earning a certificate in Markets and Management Studies. She also is involved with The Women's Network and the Duke Consortium for Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She currently works as a research assistant at the Sanford School.