International PhD student meets challenges head-on

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Portrait of Maxwell Ti Kumben

International PhD student meets challenges head-on

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Meet Health Hero Maxwell Tii Kumbeni

Maxwell Tii Kumbeni's quest to improve reproductive health outcomes of low-income women inspired him to pursue a career in public health.  

He earned his master's degree in health services planning and management from Kwame University of Science and Technology in Ghana. While searching for PhD programs in health services research in the United States, he discovered Oregon State’s College of Health.  

Maxwell learned he could focus his PhD in public health on health policy and that several of the faculty’s research interests aligned well with his own. He took a chance – and got admission with guaranteed funding.  

Have you had to overcome any challenges in your academic journey? 

Getting admission into the PhD program was particularly challenging. As an international student, I was required to take the GRE and TOEFL tests to be considered for admission. Apart from the financial burden from these tests, it was also challenging to sit for the computer delivered tests because I had never taken any computer delivered test before. But I faced these challenges squarely and eventually pursued my goal.  

Tell us about your research. What are you learning from the experience? 

I have been working as a graduate research assistant on The State of Nursing Facilities in Oregon. This has been an amazing project because I got exposure to several datasets used by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

I also got to meet with project team members including officials from Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Health Authority, etc.  

Aside from this project, I have also been involved in other research work that led to publications in peer-reviewed journals. (See Maxwell’s Google Scholar profile.) 

Have you received a scholarship? 

I have received several scholarships since I was admitted into the PhD program in 2021. 

  • Marie Harvey Sexual & Reproductive Health Fellowship (2023) 
  • Oregon Graduate Lottery Scholarship (2023) 
  • Marquis Leadership in Field of Long-Term Care Scholarship (2023) 
  • Ramona E. Barnard Endowed Scholarship (2022) 
  • Provost’s Distinguished Graduate Scholarship (2021) 

What do you think of your experience at OSU/in the college so far? Any stand-out experiences? 

The experience has been amazing. I have learned so many things in a very short period. The faculty are so supportive and there are a lot of other support systems at the College of Health to help students to succeed.  

What would you say to students considering a degree from the college? 

I would say if their dream is to build a career in public health, then the College of Health at OSU is the right place to consider.  

What are your post-college dreams/plans?

I want to take a research position in the health industry, be it a governmental, non-profit or for-profit organization here in the US. This will enable me to use my quantitative health policy research skills to improve the health of the population.