Shamambo plans to finish both med school and her MPP to bridge the gap between policy and practice in healthcare.
Headshot of Luwi Shamambo
Luwi Shamambo

Luwi Shamambo, MPP Class of 2025, identified an experience she had as a very young child growing up in Zambia during the AIDS epidemic as her motivation to pursue medicine and public policy. “A lot of kids—struggling with being ill themselves—became orphaned because they lost their parents to AIDS. I remember seeing kids out on the street and wondering, how is it that they are out begging for food, and I am here in this car with everything I need? I’ve never been able to get that image out of my mind.”

When Shamambo and her family moved to the United States when she was nine, she said the challenges of moving to another country and essentially starting over inspired her to get involved with community organizations like food pantries and other organizations to help other families in need. "And my memory of those kids in the street in  Zambia motivated me to volunteer at hospitals, spending time with kids who were sick and didn’t have family around."

Shamambo completed her bachelor’s degree in medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University in 2019, then spent a gap year with Americorps Vista in Boston, where she worked for an epilepsy center for Boston Medical Center. That program was also a capacity building program, which she said was a transformative experience. "I was able to attend conferences as well as have a paper published on the use of language pertaining to race and ethnicity in medicine." Shamambo went on to study at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2020. 

Halfway through her fourth and final year of med school, however, Shamambo decided to pursue her Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. “I wanted to learn about the policy world because there’s so much overlap between policy and public health but not a lot of communication between the two."

Now well into her first year at Harris, where she has been working through the Core curriculum, Shamambo looks forward to exploring her policy interests in education, housing, and health policy. “I’ve realized how broad health policy is because it can encompass all of those public health issues.” 

As a student at Harris, Shamambo said, “I try to keep in mind the experiences I’ve had with patients, the stories I’ve heard working in the clinical environment, and the systemic issues that individuals and families from marginalized communities face as I go into policy and think about solutions.” 

Unsurprisingly, Shamambo is also participating in the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP), where she was selected as a Brown Fellow. "The Brown Fellowship is awarded to one incoming GPHAP student from each of the five participating schools, so that was quite an honor."

After completing her MPP, Shamambo plans to return to Emory to complete her final year of med school, finish her rotations, and apply for residency. "My goal and my hope—and what feels like a responsibility to me—is to be a physician who can support and advocate for patients outside of the clinic or the hospital room. Because ultimately, that’s what is going to affect their health long term.”