Sarah Monshi is heading home to teach public health policy at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, after earning her doctorate this year at Temple’s College of Public Health.
Umm Al-Qura’s relatively new College of Public Health has a program sending instructors abroad for graduate-level education so that they can later return as faculty members. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Monshi earned her undergraduate degree in laboratory medicine at Umm Al-Qura, where she later worked as a teaching assistant. She studied at Hofstra University to earn her master’s degree in health administration, then earned her PhD at Temple, where she studied health policy and health services research and focused her dissertation research on tobacco control policies in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
She was a medical technologist before pursuing public health. ”I used to examine life through a microscope, examining blood samples,” she says. “Through public health, I see a bigger picture.”
In August, Monshi will assume a full-time faculty role teaching public health policy, ethics and law at Umm Al-Qura. “It’s a new college at the university, but they are doing a lot of work in terms of improving community health in Mecca city, so I’m proud to be part of that.”
Monshi plans to apply the expertise she developed studying national tobacco control policies (including taxes, regulation, packaging, and education) as a model for teaching the process of policymaking and its outcomes more broadly.
“My work is going to be around teaching health policy in general. That may be about the legal approaches taken to promote health and prevent diseases, such as the lockdown during COVID pandemic—how does that impact the social determinants of health, for example?" she explains. She hopes to give undergraduate students a foundation from which they can choose to study evidence-based policymaking and examine outcomes of policies targeting tobacco, obesity, and other public health issues.
Though she had to spend some time off campus due to COVID, Monshi says she cherished her time at Temple.
“Temple has a diversity that makes me feel home, I really felt home away from my home,” she says.