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How the course at ITM impacted my career

Three TMED alumni talked to current students about how studying at ITM changed their life - alumna Judy Li reminisces


Image 1/1 : TMED alumni Benoit Kervyn, Judy Li and Dries Vermaelen

The first time I walked through the halls of ITM was on a fine morning in March 2014. I had signed myself up for a course in Tropical Medicine for Bachelors in Nursing and Midwifery (TMED) at ITM. I knew this would be a great adventure, but little did I know that this would become the best decision I’ve ever made for myself, personally and professionally.

What we learnt was important. At the time, I was a nurse living in Canada. To me, nursing was a day in and day out job which saw me locked in the operating theatre looking outwards wishing for more. ITM opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. The classes were mostly very interactive and hands-on. We learnt about control of disease outbreak, maternal and child health, looking under the microscopes for helminths, and setting up vaccination programmes in resource-poor settings. Not so coincidently, I now work for my local government in Hong Kong for setting up influenza vaccination programmes! Most importantly, we learnt that there are many people out there who really needed to be advocated for.

But even more so, how we learnt, and who we learnt with, was the essence of our course. ITM is so much more than a school; and we go beyond family. Our class supported each other and has continued to do so through our professional endeavors and as friends.

The course has taken us all over the world: I have travelled and worked extensively around the Asian region, while other classmates are scattered around the globe. Working for organisations such as MSF (‘Doctors without Borders’) and Dokters van de Wereld (‘Doctors of the World’) in Afghanistan, Greece, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Madagascar, Thailand, Central African Republic, Ecuador, and beyond.

As this was the 4th year anniversary of our course completion, we decided that it was time to go back to where it all began. Our class had stayed closely in touch with each other, sharing ideas and work-related discoveries. Everything has changed so much in the past four years since we left these doors, yet one thing never seemed to change; our support for each other and from the alma mater.

Along with former classmates Dries and Benoit, I was honored to have been offered the opportunity to share with our former lecturers, course administrators and students of the class of 2018, how the course has helped us shape our careers and broaden our horizons. With one of us working in Belgium, one in the humanitarian sector, and one in the public health sector, our experiences differ from each other, but this only shows that the same course has led us to so many different paths.

Words cannot express how wonderful it was to be back. ITM will always be our second home, and there will always be a piece of Antwerp in my heart.

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