Series: Why Study an African Language? Zak Gersten and a Laser Focus on Public Health in Senegal

“I wasn’t learning how to order food from a restaurant,” says Zak Gersten (CAS ’11, MPH ’15). “I was learning how to actually hold a conversation with somebody about some specific area of public health.”

Public health doesn’t often make it onto a language curriculum, unless the class is small, and public health work is why the students are learning the language. That was the case for Zak, who has studied Wolof for five years, at BU and in Senegal, as an undergraduate biology major and as a Master’s in Public Health candidate.