Six months in Japan can teach a person a lot of things. Theo Ndatimana learned that he "could be entrusted with a decision that could affect the lives of an entire city." Theo recently used his GIS and Public Health skills to study the accessibility and delivery of health services in the City of Tokamachi. "The study was aimed to support the decision of the prefecture as they considered closing one of their hospitals," he says. Theo collaborated with faculty and students from Niigata University to determine "which hospital would have less impact on the service delivery and accessibility if closed based on spatial and non-spatial factors."
Originally from Rwanda and a longtime resident of the Loma Linda area, Theo was certain that Loma Linda University was the place for him to continue his graduate education. "My undergraduate university was too big and it was harder to meet people, but here at Loma Linda, it's pretty easy. I have made some very good friends and professional connections that I would not otherwise have made."
Eventually, Theo would like to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Environmental Protection Agency, and he credits his professors for arming him with the skills that he will need. Theo notes Professor Mark Steward, who teaches Geodatabase Design. "He wants students to learn and not to just get good grades for the sake of grades, but rather to learn. Also Professor Wiafe is someone that I feel like I can talk to not just about classes, but also about everyday life."
To earn his MPH in Environmental Health, Theo took courses in health geoinformatics, hazardous materials, and water and air quality. One of Theo's favorite classes was Food Quality. I learned a lot things that I can use in my everyday life. There were certain things I used to overlook and I now pay attention to them after taking this course."
As he finishes his time at Loma Linda, he is happy to reflect on the personal relationships that flourished while he was part of the small family at Loma Linda University School of Public Health as well as the technical skills that he could demonstrate during his time in Japan. "The fact that the study was to be presented not only to university officials but also to prefectural authorities, meant that I had to defend my final decision with all the possible evidence that I had collected and analyzed. It was a life-changing experience."