Brian Butler, DVM, MPH

Brian Butler’s early career is a true testament to the opportunities and impact made available with a dual DVM/MPH degree from St. George’s University.  Brian has recently returned from a second visit to Africa, a world away from Missouri where he was born, raised and attended undergraduate school.

He was first introduced to the people of Western Uganda through a grant funded by the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), an independent research and education institution based at St. George’s University’s True Blue campus.  As part of a project set up by WINDREF Director Dr. Calum Macpherson, Brian spent ten weeks among the Bsongoro people researching the effects of Cystic Echinococcosis (CE), a global zoonotic parasitic disease with human and livestock incidence.

CE is common in many East African pastoral peoples, but has never been investigated in the specific Bsongoro community.  It is transmitted most commonly from dogs, but is thought that wild carnivores play a significant role in the transmission of the disease as well.  Brian worked with a local wildlife veterinarian, tagging and tracking lions and hyenas, and documenting the relationship between wildlife and the local people.

As a result of his work, which satisfied the practicum for the MPH Degree, Brian received funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue his study of the physiological and pathological similarities and differences between diseases in humans and animals as he pursues his PhD in Comparative Pathology at the University of California, Davis.

Brian returned to Uganda this past summer to attend a one-month course where he studied and worked along side African colleagues in an effort to uncover solutions to Africa’s most challenging infectious diseases, most specifically pediatric malaria.  After he completes his PhD, he hopes his career pursuit in tropical medicine and tropical diseases will continue to offer opportunities to visit many more wonderful and exciting places.

Brian credits St. George’s University for offering the unique opportunity to attain both his DVM and MPH simultaneously, an opportunity which broadened his exposure to the field of research and its global application in public health and guided his current path, of which he is most proud.   He looks forward to one day returning to Grenada and making a contribution to the research and veterinary public health programs at St. George’s University.

Tshephang Moeng, DVM, MPH

Tshephang Moeng is a fifth term veterinary medical student at St. George’s University. He is originally from Kanye, Botswana—less than an hour away and southwest of the capital, Gaborone. After pursuing his Bachelors of Science at the University of Botswana, Tshephang applied to the preveterinary program at St. George’s University and was placed into the third year, completing term 3-1 and 3-2. He first considered becoming a medical doctor, however he explains, “growing up in the countryside, I developed a stronger interest in agriculture and animals and I felt like it was something I could do.”

In addition to his dreams of becoming a veterinarian, Tshephang has decided to pursue a dual degree Master of Public Health. His ultimate goal involves returning to Botswana where he hopes to use his dual degree “to improve standards of public health and address the different public health issues that can affect the country. I want to take my education on food safety, zoonosis, HIV/AIDS and knowledge of other public health issues back to Botswana.”

Tshephang explained what he thought about St. George’s University and Grenada, “It is a great place for social and academic life. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. There are people from the University there to pick you up at the airport when you arrive and people to show you around. Everyone I met was so nice and fun that it is difficult to feel homesick when you are here. Academic life can be hectic, but we have study groups and lectures and people to help you along with the education requirements. International students in Grenada have a special orientation and are given a tour of the campus. We have different social groups and organizations to help immerse us in the culture—including driving, social customs, etcetera. ”

“There are also many African and Caribbean student associations to help assist in the adjustment to a new island. But there are so many similarities between Botswana and Grenada, that the adjustment was easy.” Tshephang Moeng describes his first reaction to the island. “Grenada looks like a paradise. When I first got there I went to the Grand Anse campus and it was awesome—the weather, buildings, view, vegetation, warm welcome from the people. There really are students from around the world and we all interact with one another.”

Academically, Tshephang speaks of one African professor in particular who has inspired him—Dr. Saul Mofya from the Republic of Zambia offered Tshephang advice on areas to focus on and study and helped Tshephang discover what he was interested in and what further topics of study he could take back to utilize in Botswana.

Tshephang advises future students that “You have to look into the field you’re considering. You have to research and make sure you’re committed to the field because you can’t do something you don’t like. There are a lot of parties and activities, but stay focused on your studies and remember what you came here for.”

In addition to pursuing his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health degrees, Tshephang is incredibly energetic and involved with many extracurricular activities, including intramural soccer, Public Health Society, and the African Student Association. He enjoys mingling with the locals and people from different places around the world to learn about their cultures. “My first roommate was from India and helped introduce me to the island,” Tshephang recounts. Currently, he is considering completing one of his requirements for the public health degree by taking a practicum in Kenya through the University. Tshephang Moeng expects to graduate from the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 and earn his Master of Public Health in Spring 2011.

Brigitte Assing, MBA

Brigitte Assing and her colleagues shared a moment of joy this past spring.  Having worked tirelessly to complete St. George’s Master of Business Administration program, the charter class graduated with their MBA in International Business.

Assing, who owns and operates Charcoals Caribbean Grill in Lance aux Epines, had only one regret—that she didn’t get her MBA sooner.  It has made a world of difference.

“In retrospect it would have been great to have gotten it prior to opening the restaurant,” Assing said. “What I learned in the MBA program would have helped a lot. There are so many things that we probably wasted money on thinking we were doing the right thing.”

She and her husband Mark had always dreamed of opening their own restaurant and in 2009 Charcoals welcomed its first customers. Located approximately 1.5 miles from the St. George’s University campus and boasting an affordable menu of items that includes a mix of burgers, sandwiches, seafood, salads and more, Charcoals quickly became a popular spot among residents and St. George’s University students. They had their niche – tasty yet affordable fare.

“There are quite a few restaurants that are in a higher price bracket so we decided to offer healthy grilled food at affordable prices for families and students who are looking for a good value when eating out,” Assing said.

However, despite some early success, Brigitte soon learned that opening a restaurant and creating the menu were the least of the challenges she would face. Keeping the books, developing and launching an effective marketing program,  and growing a loyal following made her realize that she needed some training in these areas if she was to make her family business a success.   In 2010, she set off to earn her Master of Business Administration and in June 2012 was part of the charter class of MBA graduates from SGU.

“I had always wanted to get my MBA, but I just never had the opportunity.  I thought it would be difficult to balance my studies with family and work, but SGU’s online format made it easier for me to accomplish my goals, “Assing said. “I realized that SGU was offering a great opportunity.  I went forward with the degree and have never regretted it.”

The MBA program charter class included nearly a dozen students from around the world.  Despite the online format, members of the charter class grew to become friends after meeting each other in Grenada during one of the residency weeks held at the beginning and end of the degree track.

“Even though we rarely met in person, we did meet often via our computer screens so I got to know my classmates and enjoyed working with them on projects,” said Assing, who graduated with a 4.0 grade point average.

“It was wonderful being able to graduate with my team,” she continued.  “We were all so proud to still be together. We had worked so hard over the past 18 months and could now point to our accomplishment.”

Since graduating from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality and Business management in 1991, Assing has spent more than 20 years in the field of business in management positions. She worked for nine years at Spice Island Beach Resort, and then in 1999, she joined Woodlands-based Creative Design Building Construction Co., Ltd., as an Administrative manager and was promoted to Procurement and Administrative Services manager in 2005. In that position she developed and managed the Administrative department and its budgets, oversaw all overseas and local procurement and distribution of all construction materials, including all new and ongoing construction projects at St. George’s University. During this period she was specifically involved in the rebuilding of SGU after Hurricane Ivan ravaged the campus in 2004.

Since 2009, Assing has been a business and hospitality guest lecturer at St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences. She is also on the board of directors at her alma mater, Westmorland Secondary School in Grenada. She and her husband of 17 years live in Lance aux Epines and have one daughter.