“UNC-Chapel Hill was kind of always in my yard and, not going to lie, I didn't want to go here for undergrad, but it turned out to be the most affordable, best school,” Bozkurt said. “Ultimately, I ended up falling in love with the University and was made so much better by the gifted friends I made.”
In Chapel Hill, Bozkurt discovered the Gillings School of Public Health and was admitted into the undergraduate health policy management program.
“I was pre-med, and I was just feeling very removed from the studies that made my heart and mind happy,” Bozkurt said. “While I was studying how proteins might be made erroneously under microscopes, I was also, through my work at the Campus Y, encountering other immigrants and other vulnerable populations that were facing obstacles for health care.”
After determining that a biology major would not help her reach her broader goals, she switched to the school of public health and went on to work with public health organizations in Bangladesh before conducting research in Vietnam as a Mahatma Gandhi Fellow and Phillips Ambassador.
“This fellowship is a wonderful acknowledgment of the importance and impact of Burcu’s work in the field of global public health,” said Chancellor Carol Folt in a press release. “I am very excited for Burcu and have no doubt that she’ll make the most of this opportunity to create more equitable health care for all populations, particularly for those most in need.”
After working in various public health fields, Bozkurt chose to return to Chapel Hill to pursue her graduate studies at Chapel Hill because she wanted to study alongside other health services researchers that worked on issues outside of her particular interest area of reproductive health.
“She’s really smart, but what stands out is her awesome combination of grit and determination, even in the face of adversity, which she and her family experienced as immigrants, and compassion,” said Dean Barbara Rimer of The Gillings School of Global Public Health in a statement. “We are so proud of Burcu and confident that she will contribute to achieving more equitable health care on a global scale.”
Bozkurt is pursuing a Ph.D. in health policy and management and plans to dedicate her career to ensuring vulnerable populations have access to equitable health care. She is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, where she is interning for the World Health Organization under the Reproductive Health Research department.